We went to Bayou Wildlife Zoo this summer with one of MaiTai’s playgroups. Kinda pricey unless you go solo, but worth it to visit at least once when the kids are young (I’d say ages 11 and under would benefit most from a trip here).
A little bit drive-through safari, a little bit farm-y, a little bit bayou… Overall, all over the place — but a common theme of animals makes this open-range zoo a destination for wildlife lovers.
Website Link: Bayou Wildlife Zoo
Description: Via the web site – “[Here] you can see and feed animals from all over the world up close as they roam freely across our 80 acres of natural habitat… When you visit the Bayou Wildlife Zoo, one of only four zoos in the state of Texas, you’ll get to take a safari-like adventure throughout the park. When you’ve finished, relax for a bit in our picnic shelter, take your kids to the petting zoo, or browse the fun souvenirs in our shop.”
Location: 5050 FM 517 Road, Alvin, TX 775115050 FM 517 Road, Alvin, TX 77511-1828
Hours: Open daily Mar. 1st – Aug. 1st from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Open Tues. – Sun. Aug. 1st – Feb. 28th from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Fee: Adults are $20 + tax each. Children ages 2 – 11 are $10 + tax each. Kids under age 2 are free. Call for discounted group rates or season passes. Cash or check only, no credit cards.
Food: Bring your own lunch to eat in the picnic area, which can accommodate up to 300 people. Drink machines available on-site. No cooking allowed. Also, leave your booze and watermelons at home (seriously, park policy). Big buckets of food for the animals are available for $2.50.
Bathrooms: Yes. They aren’t numerous, and when we went they were rather messy and dirty, so consider bringing your own sanitizer and paper towels.
Contact Them: (281) 337-6376
Other: Tram rides allow you to see the park during a 45 minute tour. Each tram can fit a group of up to 30 passengers. *See TAKE NOTE at the end of this post.*
Photos & Feelings
We kept missing all the scheduled tram rides, so we spent time hanging out with free-roaming deer by the picnic tables first.
Now summer and I, we’re enemies, and MaiTai holds similar sentiment. So it got hot out there quickly and I thought I might die. Or worse, that I might need to shave my head and dive into the deer’s water trough right then and there.
I brushed off (or sweated off) those unhelpful thoughts and we ducked into the enclosed petting zoo. Not much cooler, but at least here was movement and action, the illusion of air flow. Sitting outside keeping our eyes peeled for the next tram had felt like waiting for a watched pot of water to boil.
As you can see, in this enclosed pen (adjacent to a giraffe, who we weren’t allowed to pet) were various goat breeds, a bunch of pregnant mama goats, cute baby goats with the tiniest horns you’ve ever seen, and potbellied pigs who let the teenager goats hop all over their hides.
I noticed how special MaiTai felt as he offered food to the goats straight from his own palm. Even in the unbearably deflating heat, this small act of kindness for the animals really brightened up his spirit.
We noticed this baby goat following his mama around everywhere, the kid’s muzzle attempting to attach to her underbelly. She did what she could to shake him — kneeling, walking in zigzags, butting him away. Eventually she gave up and he won his fight for a homemade snack from mama. It was both precious and amusingly familiar.
So, we couldn’t get enough of the petting zoo! We even came back after the eventual tram ride to try to get more of our fill.
The open-range zoo has 500 different animals and birds, 60 species altogether including 11 endangered types, from 19 different countries (don’t ask me to memorize that).
The covered tram ride takes you on a surprisingly relaxing journey through a lot of different terrain. The guide stopped at all the key points to allow animals to sidle up to the car and eat directly from passengers’ food buckets.
The guide talked about where each animal came from, their living habits, special traits, and how they design their habitats to suit their needs.
The vast majority of the animals roam the land freely, except for potentially dangerous ones like the white rhinoceros who lives in his own large pasture, and escapee risks like the monkeys who get their own private island on a lake.
On your drive to the parking lot, don’t be surprised to see a few stray ostriches or antelope sunning themselves in your lane.
In a variety of settings, we also saw exotic cattle, camels, deer, zebra, oryx, llamas, alligators, lemurs, water buffalo, and more.
The final item to check off on our list this day: MaiTai’s first-ever pony ride! Kids under 90 lbs. are welcome to saddle up on a sweet, docile pony for a three-minute walk around the corral. The guide will even stop the pony midway through so parents can get their photo op.
(1). Some of these animals are HUGE, so if your little one is easily ruffled by such real-life imposition, consider positioning him away from the outer seats of the tram.
(2). Hold on tight to your food buckets because the larger animals get super excited about snacks and don’t mind knocking the whole container out of your hands to get at it quicker.
(3). Due to the roaming nature of the animals, expect to play a feces-dodging game as you walk around. Wear your ugliest, oldest sneakers.
(4). If you’re especially annoyed by flies, prepare for grumpiness from start to finish. They really are everywhere.
(5). At the time we visited, the animal enclosures and habitats seemed to be appropriate and in comfortable conditions for the majority of the creatures (as an ethical vegan I’m always careful to limit my patronage to places that treat their animals with fairness and clear priority over profits).