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From Capabaras to Zebras: 11 Best Zoos near Austin

Best Zoos near Austin, Cameron Park Zoo

For the animal lovers out there, go to a wildlife safari or a zoo to see exotic animals, like zebras and capabaras. It makes a perfect day trip for everyone in the car.  From native animals of Texas to exotic animals from across the world, visitors will find wildlife safaris, traditional zoos and rescue zoos across Central Texas. Here are the best zoos near Austin.

11 Best Zoos Near Austin

  • Cameron Park Zoo
  • Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch 
  • Exotic Resort Zoo
  • Animal World and Snake Farm Zoo
  • Austin Zoo
  • Austin Aquarium
  • Topsey Exotic Ranch and Drive Thru Safari
  • Capital of Texas Zoo
  • Franklin Drive Thru Safari
  • Aggieland Wild Animal Safari
  • Buena Vista Safari
Cameron Park Zoo features tigers, lemurs and bears. Credit: Catherine Parker

Cameron Park Zoo in Waco

The Cameron Park Zoo features three main sections: an Asian Forest, an African Savanna and the Brazos River Country. The Brazos River bisects Waco, and the animals in this section of the zoo are native to this area of Texas. This is one of the best zoos near Austin.

I found gibbons, capybaras and a bald eagle habitat. There’s a native animal section with bears, native fish and marine animals and courgars. Finally find the giraffes, rhinos and zebras in the African savanna.

Located at 1701 N. 4th St. in Waco. Open Monday to Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Adult admission (13+) is $16, kids 3 to 12 $12 and kids 2 and younger are free.

Top Things to Do in Waco

Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch near San Antonio

Explore a 500-acre property in your own car to spot animals like zebras and giraffes. The journey is about six miles and takes about one to two hours. The Natural Bridge Wildlie Ranch features 500 animals from 40 different species. This safari doesn’t allow feeding from your vehicle.

Located at 26515 Natural Bridge Caverns in San Antonio. This is northwest of San Antonio and west of New Braunfels. Open daily from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. from November to February, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. for the rest of the year and 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on summer weekends. Adult admission (12+) starts at $29.99 and kids start at $19.99 (3-11).

Three Day Itinerary for New Braunfels

Exotic Resort Zoo in Johnson City

Drive through a park featuring 600 animals from 50 different species like hoofed animals and large birds. Visitors will see favorites like emus and zebras. Take a guided tour in an open-air, covered trailer or drive through in your own vehicle. This safari allows feeding from a vehicle.

Located at 235 Zoo Trail in Johnson City. Open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Adult admission (12+) 19.95 and kids (2-12) are $15.95. 

Animal World and Snake Farm Zoo in New Braunfels

Don’t let the name confuse you, more than a snake farm (though it features a lot of reptiles). Find bison to hyenas to capybaras to macaws. It offers some unusual animals as well, like the binturong and coati. The Animal World and Snake Farm Zoo is home to several cats, like lions. 

Private animal encounters start at $50 for a session with a variety of animals, such as the fennec fox, corn snakes, and red ruffed lemur.

Located at 5640 North Interstate 35 in New Braunfels. Open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (and 7 p.m. for the summer and school breaks). Adult admission (12+) is $19.99 and kids (3-12) are $15.99.

Austin Zoo

As a zoo dedicated to housing rescue animals, the Austin Zoo offers over 300 animals from 100 different species, like lions, reptiles, and bears. The Austin Zoo holds zoo keeper talks regularly during the day. Animal encounters include a capybara and a tortoise. This facility also features a train.

Located at 10808 Rawhide Trail in Southwest Austin. Open daily from 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. (and 5 p.m. in the winter). Adult admission (12+) is $18.95 and kids (2-12) are $15.95. 

Austin Aquarium

Not just fish, find lemurs, amphibians and parakeets. Visitors will see sharks and tropical and cold-water fish. The Austin Aquarium features animal encounters with several animals to choose from, like fish (including the shark), lemurs, birds and even a sloth.

Located at 13530 N. Hwy 183 #101 in Austin. Open Sunday to Thursday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Adult admission is $24.95 and kids are $19.95.

Best Museums in Austin

Topsey Exotic Ranch and Drive Thru Safari in Copperas Cove

With 350 acres, drive through a safari with zebras, camels and even peacocks. Feeding is allowed at Topsey Exotic Ranch.

Located at 945 County Road 118 in Copperas Cove, west of Austin. Open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Adult admission (13+) is $14 and kids (3 to 12) are $12.

Capital of Texas Zoo in Bastrop

With over 500 animals, see hippos, lions and more. The Capitol of Texas Zoo also offers affordable animal feeding. Animal encounters include guinea pigs, dingo puppies, fallow deer and prairie dogs and the price starts at $6.50

Located at 376 A Jenkins Road in Cedar Creek, east of Austin. Open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Adult admission (12+) is $15 and kids (2-11) are $10.  

Top Things to do in Bastrop

Franklin Drive Thru Safari in Franklin

Drive through an 100-acre property to see exotic animals, like camels. The Franklin Drive Thru Safari also features an exotic aviary and a reptile house. Specialized animal feed starts at $2.

Located at 4324 W. Hwy 79 in Franklin, northeast of Austin. Open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. General admission is $20 per person and kids 2 and younger are free.

See a peacock at the Aggieland Safari near Bryan. credit: Catherine Parker

Aggieland Wild Animal Safari in Bryan 

With over 700 animals (with babies throughout the season) in a complex of over 250 acres, you can spend half the day exploring. It’s a walk-thru zoo paired with a drive-thru wildlife safari.

Head to the adventure zoo first to see the hippos,  giraffes, reptiles, birds, and more. You can purchase lettuce to feed the giraffes and tortoises. Birdseed sticks are also available

Located at 18074 FM 974, Bryan. Open daily 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (last car through the gates at 4 p.m.) Adult admission is $25.95 and kids (3 -12) are $20.95.

Best Things to do in Bryan 

Buena Vista Safari in Evant

With 23 different species from 10 different countries, see hoofed animals from across the world. Though Buena Vista Safari is also home to 250 animals, including favorites like zebra and ostrich. This facility is more than a drive-through safari and offers an RV park along with cabins on-site.

Located at 1830 S. U.S. Hwy 281, Evant. Open daily from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. (5 p.m. during the winter). Adult admission is $15 and kids (3 -12) are $12.

Sanctuary Serengeti 

This drive-through safari offers a herd of hoofed animals along with zebras, camels, and even kangaroos. In addition to the drive-through safari, it offers a walk-through section with animals. The Sanctuary Serengeti features a petting zoo with goats, pigs and sheep.

Located at 250 Plum Church Rd., West Point. Temporarily closed for construction.

Load up and head out for a day dedicated to seeing and learning about animals in Central Texas. With traditional zoos, rescue zoos and wildlife safaris, visitors have more choices than ever. See animals native to Texas along with exotic animals. there is a lot to see across the Austin area and beyond. Best Zoos in Central Texas | Wildlife Safaris near Austin | Where to see animals in Texas | Family Day Trips outside of Texas #Zoos #Austin

Catherine Parker has a passion for travel and seen all 50 U.S. States. As a former flight attendant with one of the largest airlines, there isn't a North American airport that she hasn't landed in at least once. Since clipping her professional wings after 9/11, she combines her love of the open road with visiting architectural and cultural icons. She is based out of Central Texas dividing her time between writing and restoring a pair of 100-year-old houses. She shares her life with her three kids and her husband.

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