Zoos and Gardens –
After visiting the Fort Worth Stockyards, I search out two other city districts; the zoo and botanical gardens.
I see numerous advertisements touting the Fort Worth Zoo as a top 5 national facility. This seems like a pretty big claim, but then again I am in Texas. The billboards highlighting the African Savanna are just enough enticement to garner a visit.
Fort Worth Zoo
Upon entering the Zoo, I hear a lot of loud squawking around the corner. Not one to ever consult the map I am handed, I have no idea I am entering Flamingo bay. I round the corner and it looks like a pond of neon. The 4-foot tall fluorescent Caribbean Flamingos all seem to be at play and are very active. I am focusing on one when I hear a fluttering about my head and see a flash of brown feathers as I duck out of the way.
Simultaneously, the flock of flamingos all duck at the same time in unison. I have no idea what the pelican size bird is and the flamingos don’t seem to care as they pop back up and go on about their business as if nothing ever happened. I hope the little Mother Nature moment is a sign of things to come.
Beyond the flamingos, is the Primate exhibit. There are mother gorillas with their young bouncing around the yard. So humanlike are the kids and mothers. It was fun watching the young gorillas push the envelope of play and curiosity only to have mom reign them back in.
Adjacent to the gorillas is a Mandrill, much as the gorillas display human-like characteristics this mandrill had such an expression. What was he thinking? Many scenarios run through my mind. I will never know but man he is fascinating to watch.
Nothing says you are at a zoo like Zebras, Elephants, and Giraffes. My focus is immediately drawn to the giraffes way overhead. I am particularly enjoying the interaction of another mom and her calf when I notice another youngster saunter over to a large above ground platform.
Turns out it is feeding time and the calf is eager to take bibb lettuce from the zoo visitors who are willing to spend the $6 for 3 leaves. Pretty expensive lettuce, but my apologies to the little old lady that I mowed down to get my turn at feeding the little fellow.
The Asian Falls feature African lions, elephants, and tigers. I see the male lion sacked out on the rocks and never revealing his mane. The females, however, were ever vigilantly keeping an eye on all that was going on.
The exhibits continue past an aviary of parrots and parakeets on to raptors. Continuing through the Outback and penguins plus many other exhibits.
The park is laid out in a shotgun style. Once reaching the end you are to turn around and walk back. Another option is to take the Yellow Rose Express train ride back to the entrance. I want to ride the train anyway, when I see the depot, I immediately purchase the $3 ticket and ride back to the entrance, now exit. It isn’t until later, I realize that there was still more exhibits to see beyond the train depot behind the petting zoo.
Even after only seeing about 90% of what is housed here, it is certainly worthy of its top 5 designation.
The Fort Worth Botanical Gardens is 110 acres of what is billed as a living museum. A wide walking path meanders through Rock Springs, Four Season, and Back Yard Vegetable Gardens. I particularly enjoy the Native Texas Boardwalk that features a bird song identification kiosk. I divert from the main path to tour the Japanese and Cactus garden to later rejoin the main path leading to a tremendous rose garden at the end. The main garden is free of charge and provides and refreshing oasis in the middle of downtown.
Part of the Botanical Gardens, but requiring a separate entrance fee, this Japanese garden was previously a gravel pit that was beautifully transformed into a tea garden. Besides just cultivating plants, a tea (or stroll), garden is a place for meditation, relaxation and a place to promote tranquility.
The garden is characterized by its simplicity in perfect harmony and balance. A stroll reveals dry landscape gardens, waterfalls, water features, arbors, unique pathways, and bridges.
My favorite feature is the Koi pond. Common now, but at one time Koi could only be found in possession by Japanese nobility. I bought 2 bags of food at the entrance to the garden and enjoyed trying to get food to the poor Red Ear slider. The turtle is being overwhelmed by the ravenous Koi below him.