TYLER, Texas (KETK) — If you’ve ever wanted to interact with creatures of the wild, you can make your dreams come true at the Caldwell Zoo in Tyler.
There, you can reserve an animal encounter, allowing you and your small group to get up close and personal with its colony of 12 penguins. Summer reservations fill up quickly, so it’s best to book in advance.
“We have a really friendly group of penguins that like to hang out the entire encounter,” said Bird Supervisor Nichole Moore.
We joined the penguins in their habitat and learned all there is to know about these little guys.
“If you want to meet penguins and learn some really cool facts about them, probably smell a little fishy, this is a really cool experience. The penguins love it,” Moore added.
If giraffes are more your speed, you can stop by and feed these gentle giants, getting a peek at their long, purple tongues.
“Being able to have up close and personal encounters with an animal can really drive people into want to take action. Maybe it’s, ‘I want to learn more about this giraffe,’” said Candace Elmont, who works with the long-necked creatures.
It’s a unique experience not every zoo offers. A bundle of lettuce for the giraffes cost $5, and the money goes to a great cause, too.
“That money goes back in effort to conservation, so not only is it something that’s an experience for you, yourself, but you actually are helping giraffes in the wild,” Elmont explained.
Other encounters listed on the zoo’s website include ones with bears and giant tortoises.
Other zoo highlights coming soon
Soon, there will be even more to explore the zoo’s new addition, “The Amazon River’s Edge.”
“We’ve got some exciting new things that we’re adding, including giant river otters with underwater viewing and a 10,000 square-foot walk-through exhibit,” Chief Operating Officer Scott Maddox said.
The exhibit is expected to be finished in 2024, giving visitors a reason to come back next summer, Maddox said.
“It’s fun to watch the progress, especially for folks that like to make multiple trips, but we’re just anticipating a lot of fun and a lot of really cool stuff with the new animal exhibits,” Maddox added.