The old Snake Farm has a new name and mission
Seven years ago, when the New Braunfels Snake Farm was put up for sale, Dr. Eric Trager made a heart-felt decision: He would buy the run-down property and convert it into a reserve for the preservation of snakes and exotic animals.
After years spent rescuing exotic animals that others had eagerly purchased before truly knowing what it takes to care for them, Eric knew that something must be done to prevent such unwise purchases. And while he didn’t know exactly how to go about building a zoo, his desire to solve the problem pushed him forward.
“It was impossible for me to rescue every single one of those animals,” Eric says, recalling his thought process when he first bought the Snake Farm. “But if I could get the platform of a facility, then I could start eliminating the problem through education.”
Seven years later, that’s exactly what Animal World and Snake Farm Zoo is doing. In addition to purchasing twenty acres of surrounding land on which to expand its offerings, the attraction has been granted zoo accreditation, a stamp of approval by the Zoological Association of America that has boosted the zoo’s clout and allowed it to procure a diverse array of endangered species.
Of course, visitors will still find the famous rattlesnake pit and terrarium-lined walls of snakes—more than 300 in total, including some of the most venomous snakes in the world—but the space has transformed since it first opened in 1967. Today the zoo is home to a variety of exotic animals from around the world—from hyenas and lemurs to white lions and camels. Each animal is featured prominently, with a strong focus on educating people about the animals and their habitats.
At many zoos, the keepers and trainers work quietly behind the scenes, but Animal World’s zookeepers roam the grounds, interacting with patrons and encouraging them to ask questions. Several times a day, they put on educational shows with the animals, providing opportunities for visitors to learn more about the animals and to watch them eat.
“Our goal here is to reach every person in their soft spot,” says Jessica Darby, a zookeeper and animal trainer at Animal World. “One day, we’re going to reach that right kid or that right adult, and they’re going to be the ones who change everything—that help save the habitat and the natural environment for these guys.”
For more information, visit www.awsfzoo.com.
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