Why the Fort Worth Zoo Should Be On Your Texas Bucket List
There's nothing quite like a trip to the zoo. It’s fun for families and couples alike; you get to enjoy the outdoors and see some cool animals, all the while getting your cardio in for the day. And for parents of young children who tend to act like caged animals, it’s nice to leave the zoo that is their home to be exposed to actual wild animals to get a little perspective. And you don’t have to feel guilty about this outing! The zoo is also one of those great places where you can trick your kids into thinking it’s all about the fun while relishing in the fact that they’re learning stuff too. Who needs Daniel Tiger and Llama Llama when you’ve got the real thing? For those of you living in, or planning to visit, Texas, you have access to one of the best zoos in the country- the Fort Worth Zoo!
The History behind the Fort Worth Zoo
The Fort Worth Zoo, which today is home to 542 different species of animals, fish and birds, was born out of very humble beginnings. When it first opened its doors to the public in 1909 it was home to an alligator, two bear cubs, a coyote, a lion, a peacock, and a handful of rabbits. Not super impressive- if you live in Florida, chances are you’ve seen most of these animals in your backyard at some point (minus the lion, I hope).
But it didn’t stay small for long! Run by the city itself, it was one of the first official Fort Worth area 'tourist attractions' in what was then still very much a developing town. Over the next few decades a fund was set up to collect money to purchase new animals - which officially became the Zoological Society in 1939 - and by the 1960s the zoo had become known worldwide for its innovative methods and technologies.
So what should you expect to see when you visit the Fort Worth Zoo? In short, a lot!
Lions and Tigers and Bears (and wild dogs, and Okapi), Oh My!
The modern zoo is very different from the zoos of old and the Fort Worth Zoo is at the forefront of the new zoo movement, both in terms of the way they care for their animals and the way that visitors are encouraged to interact with them.
The zoo is divided into habitats, with each species given its own as true to nature as possible open environment. If your idea of what a zoo is like is a series of dejected looking creatures in tiny cages then you are in for a pleasant surprise, as every animal has plenty of room to roam, swim, or fly as they please.
Each habitat creates a world of its own for visitors to explore. The sprawling 10 acre African Savannah is the home of African lions, tigers, giraffes, springboks, monkeys and more, while the Asian Falls houses the zoo's beautiful - and sadly very endangered - Malayan and white tigers, as well as rhinos, elephants and cheeky little meerkats. And that's just for starters.
There are eight more large habitats to explore that introduce visitors to animals of all shapes and sizes from all over the world. The zoo is actually home to a number of endangered species that are now rarely found in the wild, so it’s an educational experience for both adults and kids that is as enriching as it is fun.
Navigating the Fort Worth Zoo
To make sure that you can see all the animals you want, we suggest picking up a map as soon as you enter the zoo so that you can plan your route. It's a huge place - you really can't see and do everything in a single day - but it’s a very affordable spot for a great family day out, so you can easily make multiple visits and never run out of things to see and do.
What makes the day even busier is that visiting with all the animals is far from the only thing to do, especially for kids. There are tons of activities, from the “Wild West Laser Shooting Gallery” and toddler friendly “Play Barn” found in the Texas Wild! habitat to the tornado simulator (!) in the African Savannah and a huge climbing wall in the Australian Outback exhibit.
When it comes to the educational side of things, daily animal shows are hosted in the Outdoor Learning Theater in which the zoo's expert keepers and staff share all kinds of amazing information about the creatures they work with, and sometimes the animals even join in to show off just what they can do and how clever they are.
Eating, Drinking, and More
As every parent knows, there will come a point - or several points - throughout the day when the kids will act like they’re dying of fatigue and only a copious amount of snacks will revive them. Whether you’re on the hunt for food and drinks or you just want to sit down for a hot second, the Fort Worth Zoo has something to accommodate you. The zoo offers themed restaurants in each of the habitats that allow you to dine while still watching animal antics. Kids love the idea of chowing down while surrounded by animals - and although parents are used to trying to eat while surrounded by wildlings, they might find it pretty cool as well. You can also choose to bring your own snacks - money saver, hell yeah! - and enjoy a picnic in one of several designated spots. Just be sure to check the zoo's website for restrictions.
The only improvement the zoo could make in regards to their dining would be to start offering alcohol as an option to adults... monkeys tend to be a whole lot more entertaining after a cocktail or 2. But alas, booze is prohibited so we suggest relaxing with an adult beverage after your trip when your kids are too tired to bug you.
Admission, Discounts, and Getting to the Fort Worth Zoo
Speaking of saving money, some zoos are major money pits and spending hundreds of dollars for a day at the zoo just isn’t realistic for a lot of families with young kids. Thankfully, for the 2019 season, adult admission is only $16, $12 for kids aged 3-12, $12 for seniors, and kids two and under are admitted free. To save a little more money, you could plan to visit on a Wednesday, when all admission charges are slashed by 50%. Animals look the same on Wednesdays as they do on Saturdays, so why not?
Getting to the zoo is simple too. It's located right on Colonial Driveway, which is an easy off from Interstate 30, exiting at University Drive. It's about a thirty-minute drive/Uber ride from DFW Airport. If you are coming to Fort Worth from out of town it might be worth looking at places to stay in the vicinity of the zoo, as that will also place you near some other fantastic Fort Worth tourist attractions including the beautiful Fort Worth Botanic Gardens and the NRH20 Family Water Park.
Check out the Fort Worth Zoo’s Events Calendar to find out what exciting events are coming up in the next few months, and plan your visit today! You can thank us later, when your kids are taking an epic nap after a fantastic trip to the zoo.