Want to experience seven different vegetation zones in Texas, but pressed for time? Drop by the Cameron Park Zoo, where the Brazos River Country display takes you on the river from its origins in New Mexico down to the Gulf of Mexico, incorporating 120 species of wildlife and some cultural history along the way.
While this is the signature exhibit, it’s by no means the only showstopper on the zoo’s 52-acre site within the larger Cameron Park. Since it reopened in its new digs in 1993, the zoo has been creating displays featuring animals from around the world, including a herpetarium containing reptiles, amphibians and fish from around the world. A play area, African lion display and South American section are other stops along the tour, as is Lemur Island.
The zoo’s efforts in conservation and unique presentation haven’t gone unnoticed: it’s a member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, one of only 52 zoos in the United States to belong, and one of the smallest.
And if Jim Fleshman, the zoo director, has anything to say about it, the already-deserving facility will soon reap even more honors.
“The biggest draw we have is Brazos River Country, which is just amazing,” Fleshman says. “When they walk inside a ship and see a 50,000-gallon coral reef, that’s kind of cool. But we’ve also been extremely progressive over the last 15 years, continuing to add to our exhibits and take a conservation message to the public. Having that there for them to get involved with, along with seeing a new exhibit, really makes a huge difference.”