If you are local to El Paso you might already know that the El Paso Zoo is a pretty amazing place to visit. If you're traveling through El Paso, you should definitely put the El Paso Zoo on your list of things to do. With so many amazing exhibits and special events, it's really one of the top destinations in the area.
If possible, I would recommend checking their website before visiting so you can plan accordingly. Special events are a regular feature and sometimes provide extended hours. Zoo After Howlers is how the El Paso Zoo celebrates Halloween, offering hours during the evening so guests can see a whole new side of the animal life.
A great new feature of the Zoo is the wildlife amphitheater. You will definitely want to visit when they have a live show happening with some of their critters.
I was able to see a show while I was there, and saw a couple of birds I've never seen before, including a Cassowary.
Did you know a Cassowary can jump pretty high? I didn't, but here's proof! By the way, this is the only trained Cassowary in a zoo program in the nation.
About the El Paso Zoo
A local institution, the El Paso Zoo is known for being a great place to take the kids to explore for the day. The Zoo is spread out over more than 35 acres of land so there is quite a bit to see and do.
The El Paso Zoo is proudly accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums and they believe in helping people connect with nature in a way they couldn’t possibly do otherwise. They are home to many exotic species and use their vast resources to help support wildlife conservation and preservation.
Keep in mind many of the species you will encounter at the El Paso Zoo you might never be able to see anywhere else! I loved hearing this quote from the Director of the Zoo, Steve Marshall: "We are here for the animals. If the Zoo closed tomorrow, we wouldn't change a thing."
It was easy to see how much the staff at the Zoo truly care for the animals. I guess Steve's philosophy trickles down.
Visiting the Zoo
The El Paso Zoo is broken into three sections: Animals of the Americas, Animals of Asia, and Animals of Africa. This is for park flow as much as it is to do with habitat necessities.
You can explore the map via their interactive guide online, on your smartphone while at the park, or via good old fashioned paper map at the park! You'll also find directories at the Zoo.
The habitats at the El Paso Zoo are designed to mimic the natural environments of the animals who live there which means you won’t always be able to see every animal at the zoo.
In fact, if an animal doesn't want to come out, they are never forced. Don’t worry, for every one you miss there will be ten more that you get to see and interact with!
Animals of Asia
The El Paso Zoo provides an awesome opportunity for you to encounter the critically endangered Amur Leopards. This is the El Paso Zoo’s rarest large animal and a must see when you visit the zoo. They’re located in the Animals of Asia section of the park along with the tigers, an Asian Sun Bear, Asian elephants, and many other species!
I was lucky enough to be at the zoo when there was a training exercise going on for one of the elephants.
Honestly, when I see animals being trained, it sometimes bothers me. I always thought it was about performance. Now that I have a better understanding of why the El Paso Zoo does this, I love it.
One of the elephants was being asked to lift her front foot onto a wood bar. She gets a treat when she does it correctly.
The reason it's important for the trainer to do this exercise is so the elephant's feet can be easily checked by the vet. Turns out elephants can get diabetes and need to be checked regularly.
I also appreciated the El Paso Zoo educating their guests about the palm oil crisis. When we purchase products with palm oil, we help to increase the demand for it. The more palm oil that's produced, the more habitat is lost for Asian Elephants.
There have even been reports of elephants being killed when they've gone near a production plant. Tigers, Rhinos, and Orangutans are also affected by the palm oil crisis. Do a little reading to see what you can do to make a difference. It's important! I want my great grandkids to be able to see an Asian Elephant. Don't you?
Animals of the Americas
In the Animals of the Americas section of the El Paso Zoo be sure to check out the brand new “World of the Sea Lion” exhibit. It’s an exciting way to get up close and personal with a creature you may never otherwise encounter!
Personally, I also love to see the tortoise exhibits whenever possible. They’re just so amazing and their long lifespan just mystifies me. The things they’ve seen come and go, it’s incredible to think about. I was able to take a short visit to the behind the scenes area of the Zoo and saw a couple of baby tortoises. So cute.
In the Animals of Africa section of the El Paso Zoo, you'll see the Reticulated Giraffe as well as the Rothschild Giraffe exhibit. Aj, Bonsu. and Juma are the Zoo's three male giraffes. The sheer size of these animals is enough to take your breath away. I was invited to feed one of the male giraffes.
If you happen to be there during feeding time, watch for those 15-inch long tongues!
The El Paso Zoo is also home to some gorgeous African Lions that are part of the North American Species Survival Program. This helps to maintain a genetically diverse, healthy, self-sustaining, and demographically stable species. I still can't believe I got this shot right through the glass!
The Zoo works with local and global organizations to help encourage people to consider the effects of our species on animals and wildlife all around the world, too.
The free curriculum offered by the El Paso Zoo is very cool. Used for classroom education as well as for homeschool programs, it's a great way for students to learn more about wildlife and the science surrounding animals. I learned what an elephant's tooth looks like while I was listening in on one of the educational talks.
Be sure to take a peek in the gift shop before you leave! You might find a great souvenir, and will be helping to support this great organization.
You won’t leave the El Paso Zoo without seeing something that amazes you. It’s a huge place and exploring could easily take up the whole day. Let me know if you visit. I'd love to read about your experience.
Looking for a hotel? Check out where I stayed. It was fabulous! If you're looking for places to eat, visit Cattleman's for dinner and an amazing view! What not to miss? I've got you covered there, too. Enjoy your time in El Paso.
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Disclosure: This trip was provided by Visit El Paso.