Transport yourself to an African savannah without ever boarding a plane. The savannah, complete with grasslands, rolling hills and giraffe is located within easy driving distance from the Fort Worth/Dallas metroplex. An ideal daytrip for families, Fossil Rim Wildlife Center guarantees to thrill visitors with over 50 species of exotic African and Eurasian animals. Once a hunting ranch, Fossil Rim transformed itself into a nationally recognized conservation center. Spanning 1800 acres near Glen Rose, Texas, the sprawling complex is home to wildebeest, zebra and ostrich. Fallow deer abound and Thomson’s gazelles delight visitors with their springy gait. The park’s antelope herds are nothing short of impressive. The animals roam together over land resembling the Serengeti with just a few more rolling hills than the African version.
The most common way to observe the animals is from your own vehicle. Check in at the visitors’ center to purchase tickets and buy a bag of animal feed. The animal food pellets are your passport to a herd of new friends along the scenic nine mile drive. The wildlife center advises not to hand feed the animals but to drop the pellets a few feet from your car. However, don’t be surprised if a zebra or ostrich sticks its head inside your car’s open window if not fed fast enough. In fact, some animals seem to have a system for garnering more feed – with the zebras working in pairs. One zebra stops the car by strolling in front, while its partner comes along the side for a handout. The animals are not dependent on visitors’ largess. Fossil Rim ensures all animals are fed a diet specific to their species to ensure their health and well being.
Expect to take a minimum of two hours to travel the circuit. Be sure to stop at the Overlook, the drive’s halfway point, for lunch. Try a Fossil Rim Burger at the Overlook Café. The café serves sandwiches, burgers and hotdogs along with snack items. Poised on top a hill, the valley view from the café is awesome. Outdoor tables are also available for picnickers. The Children’s Animal Center, located at the Overlook, is home to African pygmy goats and pot bellied pigs. Currently undergoing renovation the children’s center will reopen by Spring 2011 with expanded exhibits including new aviaries.
Not sure you want zebra slobber on your car? Fossil Rim offers several ways to enjoy the preserve and its inhabitants. For an even closer look at the animals, try one of many guided tours. The Behind the Scenes tour is available daily and other specialty tours like Discovery After Dark occur on a scheduled basis. The tours are led by trained guides and transport is provided via open-air vehicles.
Fossil Rim Wildlife Center is a not-for-profit organization and member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. The center is involved in Species Survival Plan® programs for over a dozen species including rhino, cheetah, oryx and zebra. Fossil Rim is also engaged in SSP programs for North American animals too like the wolf and our own Texas Attwater’s prairie chicken. Located at 2155 County Road 2008 in Glen Rose; the wildlife center is open daily.
If traveling with young children, be sure to also visit nearby Dinosaur World ( 1058 Park Road 59, Glen Rose). Dinosaur World contains over 100 life sized dinosaurs exhibited in its park. For older dinosaur lovers, visit Dinosaur Valley State Park (Park Road 59, Glen Rose) operated by Texas Parks and Wildlife. This state park showcases dinosaur tracks from about 110 million years ago. The tracks are in the Paluxy River bed and best seen when water levels in the river are low. Many of the dinosaur footprints were excavated in the 1930’s and are now on display in Washington D.C. Still sauropod, carnosaur and ornithopod tracks can be found and the park provides a map to the best viewing sites. Dinosaur Valley State Park hosts camp sites for those wishing to turn their Glen Rose day trip into a weekend camping trip.
Pack up the kids and head to Glen Rose, Texas for a family safari adventure. You will not be disappointed.