Wild Roads- Abilene Zoo

                    by Kathleen Wallsarchives of American Roads and Global Highways
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flamingos at <h1>Abilene Zoo</h1> used for header

In the wild west of Abilene Texas, you expect to find a lot of wild. The Abilene Zoo doesn't disappoint. It is filled with wild life. One of the first stops in the zoo has to be Wetlands of the Americas.

Here you come face to face with such a wide range of wildlife from the colorful beauty of the American Flamingo to the prehistoric looking American Alligator. The wetlands inspire a peaceful feeling as you watch the birds go about their normal routine. Watching the birds pick their way through water half a foot or more deep you wonder how they can walk at all on those stilt-like legs. The flamingos were proudly showing off several youngsters. Unlike the bright coral pink of the adults, the fledglings are a muted gray.

Flamingos at Abilene Zoo

In the next pond, Black Neck Swans seemed to gracefully glide about with no effort at all. So different yet each so perfectly suited to their environment. There are several kinds of ducks and over a dozen species of birdlife here.

Next we headed for Elm Creek Backyard bypassing several colorful macaws along the way. Elm Creek Backyard is a collection of Texas wildlife. Texas is a big state with varying ecosystems and lots of wild life ranging from Bobcats to a Black Footed Ferret, one of the most endangered mammals in North America.

One of my favorites is the ocelot.  His soft looking fur and beautiful pattern is gorgeous. His eyes are so soulful you feel he understands your admiration. Another favorite is the cougar. Since our own big cat, the Florida Panther, is so endangered and rare it's wonderful to see his cousin here in Texas doing much better in terms of survival. Altogether there are over four dozen variants in Elm Creek Backyard.

two Zebras at Abilene Zoo

Naturally the biggest animal kingdom is Africa. Biggest in size of animals not numbers. Here is where you find the majestic lions. I was captivated watching the regal male lion overseeing his kingdom while the female lion paced back and forth.

Lion at Abilene Zoo

Tigers are another must stop and gaze exhibit. Black Rhinos and Zebras are all a part of this section. Camels are popular also.

Black Rhino at Abilene Zoo

The smaller animals here rate a look also. Ones like the Secretary Bird, with its strange feathery headdress and orange feathers surrounding its eyes, and the ever popular monkeys.

pair of camels at Abilene Zoo

However, the pride and joy of Abilene Zoo are its giraffes. Their new Giraffe Safari Exhibit opened in April 2016. Part of the charm is the new feeding deck named Twiga Terrace. "Twiga" is the Swahili word for "giraffe." Here you get to feed these longed-necked beauties Romaine lettuce by hand. I was amazed by the softness of their fur and the length of the eyelashes.

woman feeding girraffs at Abilene Zoo

The new space is a multi-species exhibit with places for in the 30,400 square feet habitat. This larger area allows the giraffes room to run and display more of their natural behaviors. Abilene Zoo is home to four adult female reticulated giraffe, one male Rothschild giraffe and one young male reticulated giraffe. I could only tell the Rothschild male, Mesi, after being told his coloring is darker and he is the largest of the giraffes.

The smallest is Kito translated as "precious gem" in Swahili. He's just under a year old and precious. Asha, the senior female, is looking out for Kito. It was fun seeing her hovering protectively near him.

adult and baby giraffes at Abilene Zoo

I just learned that Punk one of the females who was pregnant when I visited in August, gave birth to a healthy baby boy on September 10,2016. It's a first for Punk but not for father, Mesi. Just one more reason to visit Abilene Zoo soon.

Some of the other African animals sharing the Giraffe Safari are the Marabu Storks, Blue Duikers which are a tiny antelope-like creature, Angolan Colobus Monkeys, Red River Hogs, Aldabra Tortoises, and Kori Bustards. For my younger readers, yes, you are allowed to say that word. They are the heaviest birds capable of flying.

 Pair of Red River Hogs at Abilene Zoo

The Caribbean Cove is home to a variety of wildlife found in the tropics. There are reptiles like iguanas and Dwarf Caiman and lots of amphibians such as frogs. The birds are quite colorful like the Blue & Gold Macaw and the Cuban Amazon Parrot.

Parrot at Abilene Zoo

Mammals are represented here by the Squirrel Monkeys and the Prehensile Tailed Porcupine who really are kind of cute.

The South American Exhibit is where you find another species of Spider Monkey and Howler Monkeys. The undoubted king of the jungle here is the Jaguar.

Jaguar at Abilene Zoo

Don't skip the Reptile House. I know a lot of you don't like snakes but they are an important part of of our environment no matter where we live with the exception of Ireland. They have several versions of cobra; the King Cobra, Black Spitting Cobra and Red Spitting Cobra. There are quite a few rattlesnakes and a good variety of amphibians such as geckoes and spiders.

flowers at Abilene Zoo

Spread throughout the zoo there are beautiful garden spots and play areas to take a break and relax with nature all around. It's a fun place for young and old.


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