Take a family road trip to one of these top 15 zoos in Texas.
Going to zoos in Texas is a great way to spend a day with family and friends. Some animals at Texas zoos include endangered animals, exotic animals, and all your favorite zoo animals. With so much ground to cover, you’ll want to make the best of your visit by taking along a zoo map offered when you enter or downloading a zoo app if there is one. Look at these top 15 zoos in Texas and plan to visit one close to you.
Do you know which is the biggest zoo in Texas? The answer is below.
Top Zoos In Texas
When my grandson was younger, he loved the petting zoo at the Fort Worth Zoo. I don’t think anyone could ever get tired of petting animals. Our favorites are the lambs.
Most zoos offer a train ride through the park, which is an excellent way to get off your feet and rest. We don’t ever miss a train ride.
Throughout the year, several zoos provide summer camps for educational purposes. Fort Worth is one that I know does. It was never the right time to take my grandson, but I tried several years in a row. From what I read, it’s an excellent program.
Top 15 Zoos In Texas Facts
Fun Fact: Did you know monkeys and giraffes can only come out in 60-degree weather or above? I was told that at a zoo in Tupelo, MS. Their climate is much like ours.
- Oldest Zoo In Texas: Dallas Zoo
- Largest Zoo In Texas: Dallas Zoo
- The #1 Zoo In Texas: Fort Worth Zoo
1. Exotic Resort Zoo
Johnson City (Texas Hill Country)
The Exotic Resort Zoo is an independently-owned safari zoo home to over 700 exotic animals representing over 45 species.
- Hop on a one-of-a-kind guided tour tractor ride through the park.
- Drive-Thru (your vehicle) option (check the website for more info)
Safari cabins are available to rent and come with many excellent amenities.
2. A Drive-Thru Zoo In Glen Rose
Glen Rose (North Texas)
Fossil Rim Wildlife Center is a drive-thru zoo. Have you ever tried to feed an animal from your car while driving through a zoo? I have. The last time was in Tupelo, MS. That bison wanted all the food AND the container!
3. Caldwell Zoo
Tyler (East Texas)
Animal encounters and giraffe feedings are offered at Caldwell Zoo, a petting zoo, and a gift shop. The zoo is only open from 9 am to 3:30 p.m.
4. El Paso Zoo and Botanical Gardens
The El Paso Zoo has a bug fest going on right now! I love going to zoos that celebrate insects! Well, that’s what it said on the website! Be sure to check out the African Savanna and the Asian elephants.
5. Cameron Park Zoo
The Cameron Park Zoo is Waco’s 52-acre Natural Habitat. And it’s my pick for having the best colorful website. It just makes you want to visit. I love the greens and bright colors. Check it out!
6. San Antonio Zoo
Last year, The San Antonio Zoo successfully hatched 10 Komodo dragons, the world’s largest lizards. WOW!!
On selected days, the San Antonio Zoo offers a drive-thru zoo. Check the website for dates and times.
7. Gladys Porter Zoo
Gladys Porter Zoo has around 1600 animals and 225 species of plants spread out over 31 acres. So, not only can you visit the animals, but you can also marvel over plants and flowers. I think that it is a great idea to combine the two.
FYI – Brew At The Zoo, held in May last year, sold out quickly.
8. Fort Worth Zoo
Fort Worth Zoo was founded in 1909 with only a handful of animals. Now, the zoo houses more than 7,000 native and exotic animals. Outside food and beverages are permitted.
I’ve taken my grandson to this zoo many times, and once during Boo at the Zoo. That was fun. When he was younger, we would go inside the zoo gift shop and buy him a stuffed animal. He’s 12 years old now and still loves stuffed animals. I can’t complain – I still have my stuffed bear collection from the 80s.
Travel Pro Tip: The Fort Worth Botanical Garden is just down the street from the zoo and worth visiting if you have the time. We went there for Mother’s Day and were mesmerized by all the plants and colorful flowers.
9. Dallas Zoo
Welcome to the largest zoo in Texas, but not the #1. It has been before, but Fort Worth Zoo passed them up.
The Dallas Zoo is a great zoo with many family activities. I once got to go inside the pen with the Galapagos tortoises – that had never been done before. They love lettuce –lots of it.
Travel Pro Tip: Dallas World Aquarium is an attraction in downtown Dallas that’s worth a peek.
Fort Worth Zoo vs. Dallas Zoo
I’ve always heard people like Fort Worth Zoo better. I’ve been to both, but at the FTW Zoo more often because I live closer. Either one is good to visit. They both have amazing animals. When you’re in town or want to go to one of the zoos but can’t make up your mind – I saw whichever has a brand new baby born is the one to go to.
10. Houston Zoo
As you walk into the Houston Zoo, the impressive sea lion exhibit is the first you see, and I hear they put on a pretty good show. Did you know they are called sea lions because they roar like lions?
Travel Pro Tip: On the first Tuesday of each month, the Houston Zoo offers free admission.
11. Austin Zoo
The Austin Zoo is a rescue zoo. I thought they all were. But it’s great to know that abandoned animals have somewhere to go. There is a train ride too! As I mentioned above, I never pass up a ride on a train at the zoo. It’s that little kid in me, I guess. If you want to know what else to do around Austin, here are places to visit near Austin for your enjoyment. I hope to see other Central Texas zoos do this, too.
12. Ellen Trout Zoo
The website shows lots of greenery, and it looks very inviting. I would go if I were in Lufkin or near the area.
13. Frank Buck Zoo
Gainesville (North Texas)
I have passed this zoo on I35 many times but have never visited it. Shame on me. Well, we always had someplace to be!
14. Abilene Zoo
At the Abilene Zoo, you can book an up-close tour with an animal. My grandson and I did that (photo above with a rhino); it was the best experience we have ever had with an animal. It’s not every day you get to feed a rhino. The Abilene Zoo is the smallest in Texas.
Fun Fact: Zoos in Texas work together to care for the animals; sometimes, animals must be moved. You can see two Striped Hyenas at the Abilene Zoo for a brief time – they were formally at the Fort Worth Zoo and will return sometime in 2023.
Fun Fact: Did you know giraffes sleep standing up? Giraffes do most everything standing up. The Abilene Zoo houses giraffes and offers giraffe feedings twice daily for $40.
15. Amarillo Zoo
Amarillo Zoo offers educational camps. The Amarillo Zoo is open 7 days a week, 9:30 a.m -5:00 p.m.
More Zoo-Like Places In Texas
• Moody Gardens in Galveston is not an actual zoo, but it’s worth mentioning because they have animals, and kids love them!!
- Aquarium Pyramid – penguins, seals, stingrays, sharks, and more!
- Rainforest Pyramid – otters, Saki monkeys, sloths, and an array of birds
• The Wild Animal Sanctuary Texas in Boyd (North Texas)
The Animal Sanctuary Texas houses lions, tigers, bears, wolves, and other exotic animals rescued from illegal or abusive situations. I had no idea this place was super close to where I live. The sanctuary is not open to the public, but you may visit a couple of times a year if you become a supporter by donating money. The website has more information on that.
I’m surprised Texas doesn’t have more zoos, but hopefully, these top 15 zoos in Texas will satisfy our readers.
Don’t miss these:
- Animal World & Snake Farm Zoo 5640 IH 35 South, New Braunfels, TX.
- 500+ animals
- get up close & personal
- they aren’t your average zoo
- Aggieland Wild Animal Safari at 18075 FM 974, Bryan, TX. Use TXWILD22 to save $2 on all regular-priced tickets.
- on foot
- 700+ animals
- animal feeding experiences
- Grapeland Safari at 13440 U.S. Hwy 287 North, Grapeland, TX
- feed the animals from your car
- One cup feed with admission. $12.95 per person
- group discount
Out of these 15 zoos in Texas, which ones have you been to? What’s your favorite?