Since its inception in 1919, Abilene Zoo has been a sought after WILD adventure in the community. Continuing this legacy, A Bold Adventure features four phases and includes new habitats, species, conservation efforts, experiential dining, education classrooms and the development of 22 untapped acres. Join us on A Bold Adventure and be a part of ensuring endangered species’ survival for future generations.
Conservation is at the heart of Abilene Zoo every day. With as few as 6,000 black rhinos left in the wild, it is critical that Abilene continues to play a role in the future of this rare species. The rhino habitat expansion will allow for future mating of our current black rhino, Macho, or an added rhino species such as the near threatened white rhino. The expanding and wildly popular Zoo events including Rock & Roar, Wild Days and Zoobilation will take on new heights with an expanded event lawn and permanent stage while also creating an enhanced revenue source for the Zoo.
So much more than a Café, this new dining experience will bring visitors up close and personal with the pride and offer a bird’s eye view of the surrounding savanna – all while visitors enjoy unique and ferocious eats. Situated next to the Café, the new lion habitat will include an interactive element with a nod to the Zoo’s aviation history. Positioned part way into the exhibit, visitors can climb into the cockpit of a small plane and have a wild encounter – face to face with a lion!
Phase one, Wild Encounters and Ferocious Eats, includes an expansion of the current rhino habitat and will allow us to actively participate in breeding this endangered species. The new amphitheater and event lawn will offer stunning lake views and host many community events, like Wild Days, as well as act as an outdoor classroom. A new multi-species yard and barn will allow the iconic giraffe herd to grow and bring a new African hoof stock species, sitatunga, to Abilene.
Just as the heart of the home is the kitchen, the heart of the Zoo will be the new two-story café that is more than just a place to grab a great bite to eat – it’s an experience! The second level patio will offer incredible views of the city and will look out over vast habitats filled with new species from across the world that will come in future phases.
On one side the café is attached to a new lion habitat with floor to ceiling glass panels so you can eat lunch while watching the majestic pride. A new meerkat habitat will be just off the ramp to the café. These habitats will feature highly interactive elements. Imagine climbing through a small tunnel to pop up into the meerkat habitat or climbing into the cockpit of a small plane and finding yourself mere inches from a napping lion. On the other side, the café features an additional new species, the cheetah, the most endangered cat in the world.
Phase one includes four new habitats, a habitat expansion, three new species, experiential dining, interactive elements, new conservation efforts and countless fun educational opportunities – and the journey has just begun!
Abilene’s iconic giraffes are in need of an expanded yard and new barn to allow for improved herd management and ongoing growth. As baby giraffes join the herd each year, the additional space is critical to maintain a healthy herd. The Zoo’s hatchery may be one of the best-kept secrets, but not for long! The new hatchery building will allow visitors to witness the birth and growth of bird and reptile species as they explore and discover their new home. Keeping in mind our youngest Zoo visitors, the natural play area offers kids a shaded place to climb rocks like a mountain goat, roll down a hill, swing like a monkey, or race down a natural slide.
The second phase, Playful Discovery, continues the expansion of the giraffe herd with an additional yard and barn as well as a multi-species yard featuring greater kudu and oryx. A new hyena habitat will bring a thriving cackle back to Abilene. One of the Zoo’s best kept secrets, the hatchery, is currently behind-the-scenes but will move front and center during this phase. Guests will be able to watch as flamingo chicks, baby tortoises , and even reptile eggs are hatched out. Central to this phase is a natural playscape that will allow kids to be kids and interact in an authentic way with nature.
Phase two includes three new habitats, more than two new species, a hatchery, and a playscape – and with the largest development just up ahead, the journey continues!
Take a trip around the world as you experience Africa, Asia and North American wildlife in the newly developed back 22 acres of the Zoo. Traverse the African Savanna and African Forest on foot over the quarter mile elevated boardwalk while enjoying shaded stops and picturesque views. Or, grab your passport and hop on board the Huntington train to travel the African Safari, Asian Grasslands, and North American Plains by rail. Comfortably holding even our tallest visitors, each train will hold more than 50 riders and will boost train ridership by more than 60%.
The third phase, Passport to Exploration develops more than 20 acres with large multi-species habitats. Divided into the African savannah, Asian grasslands, North American plains, and African forest, this phase features new species like okapi, impala, gazelles, wildebeest, and red panda. An elevated boardwalk will offer stunning vistas and unique animal viewing opportunities with plenty of shade structures, restrooms, and a snack area. Or, hop on board the spacious CP Huntington and traverse the outer edges of each habitat with unparalleled sightings of pygmy hippos, blackbuck, nilgai, lechwe, greater kudu, and sable antelope.
Phase three includes four large multi-species habitats, more than 20 new species, a train experience, and an elevated boardwalk – heading into the final stretch of this journey, more adventure is ahead!
Known for creating fun and unique educational experiences, teaching young minds about the importance of conservation and bringing children face-to-face with animal ambassadors is a core part of the Abilene Zoo. The new education center will feature state of the art classrooms that seamlessly connect to the great outdoors sparking curiosity, wonder and a love for animals and conservation. Expanding the animal ambassador building will bring more schoolchildren face to face with animals creating unforgettable experiences and igniting a lifelong love and understanding of conservation.
Growing Wild Minds is the fourth and one of the most important phases. A new Education and Animal Ambassador building will feature state of the art classrooms that seamlessly connect to the great outdoors sparking students’ curiosity, wonder, and a love for animals. Expanding the animal ambassador building will bring more school children face-to-face with animals creating unforgettable experiences and igniting a lifelong passion for conservation.
A new entryway will streamline school group visits, as well as ticket purchases and a new aquatic habitat featuring African penguins will delight each visitor to the Zoo.