Animal World and Snake Farm
by Joslyn Corvis with Jarrod Forthman
With three acres of land housing various animals, such as buffalo, hyenas, wolves, and a vast array of primates, birds, and of course snakes, Animal World and Snake Farm is hopping (and crawling!) with wildlife. Opened in 1967, it is a Texas tradition for all ages. Not only is it educational, but you can see the animals up-close-and-personal, which adds a whole new dimension to the zoo experience. Jarrod Forthman, Outreach Director of Animal World and Snake Farm, took some time out of his busy day to tell me about some of the exciting things in store for the future. There will be an otter exhibit by summer, a giraffe, plans to renovate some of the existing animal dwellings, and trees being planted on the newly purchased twenty acres. A buffalo feeding will also be integrated to their list of events, and as of now there is a crocodile feeding, dubbed by New York Times as “The Most Dangerous Show in the Country!” You can catch the croc feedings during the summer, every Sunday at 3PM. The facility has also been featured on Dirty Jobs with Mike Rowe (Season 3, Episode 11), and will be on an upcoming episode of Shipping Wars. Check your listings; you won’t want to miss it!
What really struck me about Mr. Forthman was his enthusiasm for what he does and his obvious love for the animals. Yep, even the slithery ones. Having raised some of the residents of the Snake Farm, like the pig-tailed macaque named Zoe, a lemur, the capybara, and the spotted hyenas, he has a very strong bond with them. Spotted hyenas have a reputation for being aggressive, to which he elaborated, “These are the only kind of hyenas I’ve worked with, and I’ve never had any problem with them. They’re the largest of the hyenas, so maybe in the wild it makes them a little braver. They have one of the most powerful bites in the world; they’ll even go after a lion.” He also has some first-hand experience with the reptiles. “Snakes will generally react to you depending on your mood. If you’re nervous or scared, they pick up on that. If you’re calm, it helps. Of the reptiles, the crocodiles exhibit the most intellect. The saltwater crocodile recognizes people. There are certain people he won’t go near, but he definitely recognizes me when I go in to feed him.”
While it’s tempting to think how a wild animal might be a fun addition to the family, it is not recommended. When I asked Mr. Forthman if a capybara, the largest rodent in the world and one of my favorite animals, would make a good household companion, he brought up a very interesting point. “They can’t defecate without water, so instead of a litter box, you have to have a tub of water for them.” Imagine the maintenance, not to mention the water bill! Animal World and Snake Farm is also home to the only known serval-caracal hybrid. It may look cute and cuddly, but as with the capybara, caracals would not be an ideal companion. “They’re very playful, and they play like cats, only harder.” When kept in captivity, it’s best to leave the care of wild animals in the hands of professionals for our well-being, as well as theirs.
After our chat, I walked around to look at the animals. Although the African porcupine was sleeping in his hideout, the glimpse of his quills was impressive! The Eclectus Parrot was quite talkative, muttering words in a tiny voice. I was able to get a pretty good look at the King Cobra, and was smitten with its dangerous beauty. This is just a glimpse into some of the sights and sounds at the Snake Farm. There is so much to see that it’s easy to lose track of time. You are definitely going to want to schedule your day around the visit, because once you walk through the door, you aren’t going to want to leave. Or, as the sign outside beckons, “Have Your Birthday Adventure at Animal World Zoo!” Also, you may want to bring along some extra spending cash so you can purchase a souvenir from the gift shop. With a large selection at reasonable prices, there’s a little something for everyone. On my next visit, I’m planning to get a plush hyena, and maybe a couple of shark teeth to add to my collection.
In closing my conversation with Mr. Forthman, he added, “Unlike average zoos, we provide a more hands-on experience. We have a petting zoo, the crocodile feeding, and we’ll be adding a safari and a snake house.” For kids and adults alike, it takes you to a whole new level with the animals, and there’s so much to look forward to with the upcoming revampment.
If you are planning a trip to Animal World and Snake Farm, please click HERE for hours and prices.If you would like to be a part of the future of Animal World and Snake Farm, please feel free to make a donation to this address: