Frank Buck Zoo-Gainesville, TX

by Jessica on October 26, 2011

There are some moments that are so weighty that they stick with you way after that moment had passed. I still remember my first outing after the birth of my third child.  Even though I had traveled both near and far with my younger two kids,  I was scared.  Truthfully,  with every addition to our family, I found myself somewhat daunted and apprehensive as I tried to regain my traveling mojo. Luckily, there are plenty of settings that allow for easy sightseeing to help regain some confidence.  The Frank Buck Zoo is just such an outing and a great place for especially preschoolers to return again and again.

Things I Love about the Frank Buck Zoo:

  • Small size makes it an easy walk for little legs
  • Exhibits are designed to allow close proximity to the animals, keeping kids engaged
  • Zoo is designed in a closed loop with no branching paths for little ones to dart away
  • Feeding stations throughout the loop let excited visitors interact with the animals
  • Playground and train outside the zoo extend the fun if you have the energy
  • Entire zoo can be seen in an hour or less, making a perfect morning outing
  • The low cost makes it easy to cut and run should any member of your party reach meltdown capacity.

Planning your day at the Frank Buck Zoo:

The zoo is small enough that it doesn't take much planning, but with little ones, every little bit of planning helps.  Most likely you will be up early anyway, so head to Leonard Park first thing in the morning.  Arriving at  Leonard Park, there is very little chance that kids won't notice the giant wooden playscape just outside the zoo, so plan some time to stop and play.  There is a special preschool area inside the playground created just for preschoolers.

The zoo opens at 10:00.  As you enter, check out the rock sculpture in which one animal blends seamlessly into another.  Start your loop to the right to see the monkeys, kangaroos, and flamingos.   When you meet the parrots, be sure to stop and say hello and the parrots will reward with a squawking hello in return.   You should reach the top of the walkway and the giraffe habitat just in time to take part in the 10:30 feeding.  Giraffe feedings happen only once a day, so you will not want to miss it.  The $1.00 fee is well worth the excitement of seeing and feeling the long, slippery tongue.

The giraffe exhibit begins the newly built elevated walkway that simulates the African savannah.  Zebras, hoof stock, ostriches, and water birds, mingle with the giraffes in an open grassy area.  The top of the ramp is a great shaded area to stop for a quick snack and watch the animals roam and feed.

The African savannah marks the halfway point of the zoo, and if you are pushing a stroller you will be relieved to know that it is literally all downhill from this point.  At the bottom of hill, preschoolers will enjoy feeding the eager goats in the farmyard.   A bit further along feeding stations are also available to feed the larger elks and buffalo.  Sinks are available for hand washing.

Just a few more animals and you will complete the loop and reach the end.   If you are all still going strong, enjoy a picnic lunch in the park and take a ride on the train before heading home for a nap for all.


Know before you go:

Bring your own lunch and snacks.  There are no eateries inside the park or zoo and snack foods are limited.

Giraffe feeding happen only once per day at 10:30.

Bring a handful of quarters for the food dispensers along the trail.

There are no bathrooms along the trail, so make a quick stop before you see the animals.




walkingontravels October 26, 2011 at 10:11 pm

Love it! I always want to do the animal feedings at our zoo but can never time it right. I'm luck if I get out the door when I hope to some days. On that last photo your son is awful brave. My guy won't go within a foot of the animals to feed them yet. One day I won't be able to drag him away I'm sure. 

registerdlj October 26, 2011 at 11:42 pm

We made our first visit to Frank Buck Zoo this summer before it got hot.  It was wonderful!  Like you, I have to think about how difficult it may be to manage each outing; we have 5 kids.  We had no problems here and for all the reasons you mentioned.  Great place!

The Cheap Cajun October 27, 2011 at 9:08 am

Just found you thru the blog hop!
Your blog is great!
Gladly following!

Kathryn October 27, 2011 at 9:32 am

new follower from blog hop, would love a follow back!

Mom Fashion World October 27, 2011 at 10:08 am

Looked like the kids had a great time!
By the way, I'm your newest follower via GFC from the Thursday Blog Hop.
Please feel free to visit my blog. Looking forward to seeing you there, and hope you follow back. Thanks!

Lisa October 27, 2011 at 10:50 am

Feeding giraffes – how cool is that?!?  Sounds like a great zoo for young kids.

Barbara October 27, 2011 at 2:33 pm

I would love to take my son to feed the giraffes!  He would get such a kick out of that!

Rena October 27, 2011 at 7:24 pm

the zoo looks amazing.  I love the pictures of the giraffes.
Stopping by from the blog hop. I’m a new follower.
Hope you can check me out at

Susan October 29, 2011 at 9:35 am

Love it! Thier annual non-scary, family friendly Zoo Boo celebration is Oct. 29th 6-8pm :)

nicki October 29, 2011 at 10:45 am

Just in case you didn't know, they now have Aunt Sweet Tooth's Kitchen & Jungle Grill, located in the same entrance as the Zoo. It's all delicious food, handmade daily. You don't want to miss the Cake Pops!
So, even if it's a last minute excursion, you can pick up some food while you're there!

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