Load up the family and take a mini road trip to the Exotic Resort Zoo in Johnson City. It’s about an hour out of town — depending on where you live in the Lake Travis area — but truly a world away.
The Exotic Resort Zoo is located on 137 acres with over 500 animals and 80 different species. The highlight is the guided safari tour, where you ride around the property in a large open but covered trailer. You can buy buckets of feed at the gift shop, which I highly recommend (they are large enough to share).
The tour takes about 45 minutes, and our guide did a wonderful job of telling us about the animals as we meandered through the grounds.
The squeals of delight from the kids — and some adults — were priceless. The animals come right up to the trailer and most will eat right out of your hand. There are deer, camels, elk, zebras, buffaloes, llamas, ostriches and many many more.
Each of us had a favorite. I loved the camel. My husband made friends with a llama. One of my kids was amazed to see a zebra up close.
Another liked the shaggy longhorn (I think his technical name was Scottish Highlander, but to me it looked like a cross between a sheepdog and a longhorn).
We all laughed but were a little scared of the ostrich. He greedily ate directly from the bucket, and his table manners were on par with my toddler’s …
The tour will take you by the five safari cabins on the property, which can be rented for overnight stays. There’s a private petting zoo, pool and a small fishing area reserved for cabin guests. They are located near the kangaroo exhibit.
Because kangaroos are nocturnal (another tidbit of knowledge I picked up on the visit) they were lazily lounging on the ground when we passed. But it would be neat to see them up and about if you were there at the right time.
Timing your zoo tour
As far as I could tell, there are no scheduled times for the tours (though the website says the last one leaves at 5pm).
When we arrived one tour had just left, and we were told it would be about 15-20 minutes before the next one. As it turned out, we had to wait for the first one to return so our wait was closer to an hour.
We didn’t mind because we kept busy feeding the animals, but it would have been nice to have that expectation from the start. Next time we’ll be prepared, and maybe bring a picnic lunch to eat while we wait, since there are plenty of tables nearby.
There’s also a petting zoo near the front, which is a good way to kill time before the tour.
You don’t go to the Exotic Resort Zoo for the “resort” part or upscale attractions. You go for the animals.
The opportunity to feed and interact with exotic animals is not something most of us get to do everyday and is definitely worth the drive. It’s an unbelievable experience and neat that it’s so close to home. Just bring your hand sanitizer.
Open every day from 9am to 6pm
You can follow their Facebook page for specials or coupons.