• T.j. Johnson

Local Zoo Answers Call of the Wild

The Capital of Texas Zoo, located in Cedar Creek, Texas, is not known for it’s perfectly landscaped lawns, or it’s exotic flower beds. There is something far more important taking place amid the rough and tumble native terrain of Central Texas.

This local, non-profit zoo has heard the call of the wild and has answered it in a big old Texas way!

The zoo is home to over 500-species of animals and Zookeeper and owner, Michael Hicks, maintains a threatened and endangered species breeding program which is currently working on the conservation of seventeen different species of endangered animals. According to the National Wildlife Foundation, an endangered species is an animal or plant that is considered at risk of extinction and can be listed as endangered at the state, federal, and international level. If an animal is listed on the federal level it is managed under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) of 1973. The ESA enables the federal government to take responsibility for protecting the endangered, or threatened species, and their critical habitat.

The endangered species currently being bred at the Capital of Texas Zoo include; Blue Throat Macaws, Dingoes, Rhino Iguana’s, Nubian Wild Ass, The Great Cassowary, Socorro Island Doves, Scarlet Macaws, Military Macaws, Brown Lemurs, Ringtail Lemur's, Edwards pheasants, Fanalokkas, Bengal Tigers, Lion, Leopards, Armenian Mouflons and Asiatic Bears,

The zoo is also home to two Asiatic Bears (Ursus thibetanus), also known as the Himalayan Bear or Moon Bear. This enchanting couple is endangered in the wild due to poaching. The bear’s gallbladder and bile are highly valued by poachers in Asia; especially in Japan, Singapore, and South Korea, because of its valued use in traditional Asian medicines. In China, the bears are taken into captivity and “farmed” to extract their prized bile.

According to the World Land Trust (2021), “ The Asiatic Black Bear population is decreasing, with threats ranging from illegal hunting for its skin, paws, gallbladder and bile to human-bear conflict and deforestation due to logging, agriculture and urbanisation.” So, programs like the Capital of Texas Zoo’s endangered species breeding program are essential to the animals continued survival.

There is a distinctive feeling of connection at the Capital of Texas Zoo, between visitors and the animal inhabitants, that seems to be lacking at the larger, more commercial zoos. The zoo offers many unique and interactive animal encounters for enthusiastic zoo-goers. You can swim with the otters, or feed the big cats, hippo, or crocodile. You can also have encounters with dingo puppies, camels, fallow deer, prairie dogs, miniature donkeys, lemurs, snakes, and even guinea pigs. The Zoo’s marketing director, Shelli Miller, is always willing to help design an interactive encounter package specifically for groups, weddings, or other types of parties which can be hosted in the popular Peacock Pavilion.

As a non-profit organization, volunteers are a very important part of maintaining the zoo and caring for its animal occupants. The only requirement for volunteers is a love of wildlife and conservation, and the willingness to show that love to the animals. There is also a Junior Zookeeper Program for kids ages 13-17 years old. You can sign up on the zoo’s website, www.capitaloftexaszoo.org, to join either of these volunteer programs or learn more about the zoo’s conservation efforts.

7 views0 comments