How to Get Up Close and Personal with Animals in Austin

Written by Hafeez Hussain

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Photo by Jeremiah Del Mar on Unsplash


Austin is undeniably a city of animal lovers. Taking care of animals is at the core of Austin's culture, which is why natives appreciate animal conservation in almost every form. From zoos to wildlife sanctuaries to petting zoos to farms where kids can cuddle with friendly goats, this city hosts plenty of opportunities for animal enthusiasts to educate themselves and others about the importance of caring for all members of the animal kingdom. These places give visitors a chance to appreciate the creatures we share our planet with — by showing us how to be good caretakers, better communities, and more empathetic people.

If you ever get a chance to visit Austin, Texas, you may have to check out one of the city's zoos, wildlife sanctuaries, or petting zoos — you'll be glad you did.

Austin Aquarium

Austin Aquarium, located at 13530 US-183 #101, Austin, TX 78750, has been providing Central Texans with once-in-a-lifetime experiences since 2014. It is a one-stop-shop for family fun and interactive exhibitions. The aquarium lets you explore the wonders of the oceans through its featured exhibits, including a wide variety of amphibians, lorikeets, parakeets, cold water fish, and tropical fish. The aquarium promotes interaction and compassion, which leads to unforgettable memories for visitors. It is one of the two facilities in the country that allows visitors to come up close to the pet lemurs and interact with them. The lemurs and the patrons equally love it. The adult daily ticket is $19.95, and children ages 3-11 can get an entry for $14.95. Foster children and educators can visit it for free, and college students and senior citizens get discounted tickets.

Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch

Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch is a captivating place located at 26515 Natural Bridge Caverns Rd, San Antonio, TX, 78266, with the largest collection of exotic and endangered animals in Texas. The exotic animals that roam the 450-acre tract of land are so close; you could touch them. Home to over 500 animals from 40 different species, it's an exciting place to learn all about the world's creatures. With so many to spot, it can be hard to know where to look first. Watch an ostrich up close or hand-feed a giraffe! You can even touch a zebra. It's a unique experience that you will never forget. The regular admission rates are $28.99 for Adults: 12-64 years, $19.99 for Children: 3-11 years, and $25.99 for seniors 65+years

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Austin Animal Center

Austin Animal Center, located at 5640 N Interstate 35 Frontage Rd, New Braunfels, TX 78132, is taking the lead in animal care in Austin and Travis County. The shelter has taken on record numbers of animals, with 16,000 pets per year coming through its doors. The center doesn't discriminate and accept all types of animals, be it stray, owned, abandoned, and regardless of health, species, and age. The center is committed to finding every pet in their care a loving home by matching pets to foster homes, for adoption or to forever homes. Volunteers can play an important role in this endeavor, either by temporarily fostering pets, donating to their care, or volunteering at the shelter itself.

Austin Zoo

Austin Zoo is a 20-acre zoo located at 10808 Rawhide Trail, Austin, TX 78736, with a mission to provide a haven for animals, as well as to connect with visitors through the power of education. Founded in 1990 as a nonprofit zoo and home to over 100 species of animals, Austin Zoo gives visitors unparalleled close-up experiences with some of the earth's most fascinating creatures. From birds to domestic animals, Austin Zoo offers an unbeatable opportunity to engage with nature and see some truly incredible animals. In addition, the zoo has dedicated itself to the care of animals in need. The zoo rescues wild animals that have been injured or displaced by habitat destruction, senior or ill animals from other zoos, and abandoned exotic pets as well. You can also have encounter experiences by booking safe and authorized Capybara and Tortoise encounters. The adult ticket price is $15.95 at the gate, while children ages 2-12 can visit by paying $12.95.

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