Road tripping the zoos! Visit these top 15 zoos in Texas.
Going to zoos is a great place to spend a day with family and friends. Animals at Texas zoos include endangered animals, exotic animals, and your favorites. 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. Take a look at these top 15 zoos in Texas and make plans to visit one close to you.
Related: Quick Weekend Trips From Dallas
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, 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 that 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.
Related: North Texas State Parks To Visit
Top 15 Zoos In Texas
Fun Fact: Did you know monkeys and giraffes can only come out in 60 degrees weather or above? I heard at a zoo in Tupelo, MS. Their climate is much like ours.
- Oldest Zoo In Texas: Dallas Zoo
- Largest Zoo In Texas: Dallas Zoo
- #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 and a petting zoo and gift shop. The zoo is only open from 9 am to 3:30 pm.
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 you can also marvel over plants and flowers. I think that it is a great idea to combine the two.
FYI – Their Brew At The Zoo held in May is sold out. That is excellent news!
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 beverage 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 to visit, 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.
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 zoos. It’s that little kid in me, I guess. In case you’re wanting to know what else to do around Austin, here are places to visit near Austin for your enjoyment.
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. 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 zoo in Texas.
Zoos in Texas work together to care for the animals, and sometimes animals must be moved. You can see two Striped Hyenas at the Abilene Zoo for a brief time, which were formally at the Fort Worth Zoo but 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 a day for $40.
Related: Weekend Getaway To Abilene, TX
15. Amarillo Zoo
Amarillo Zoo offers educational camps.
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
Boyd (North Texas)
The Animal Sanctuary Texas houses lions, tigers, bears, wolves, and other exotic animals that have been rescued from illegal or abusive situations. I had no idea this place is super close to where I live. But 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 these top 15 zoos in Texas hopefully will satisfy our readers.
Chastity says, There are plenty of zoos, aquariums, and wildlife centers to explore with your family in the Lone Star State. You’ll find everything from the #1 zoo in the United States, a Texas-size safari, to even an aquarium overlooking the Gulf of Mexico. Get up-close and personal with animals at these zoos to visit in Texas. Read her article on The Best Zoos In Texas.