A big thing in Tyler is Brookshire's grocery...founded in 1928 by Mr. and Mrs. Brooksire. They were fond of their business and community, and apparently also fond of hunting. After many trips to Africa, they needed to do something with their prizes, hence the birth of the World of Wildlife Museum.
The [free] museum includes over 450 animals from Africa and North America. It was a little unsettling to think about the actions behind the displays, but if you get past the notion of hunting, it was quite interesting to stare right into the face of a lion, black bear or huge polar bear...or a group of monkeys!
After the animal viewing, we enjoyed the old-timey country store, and purchased a few classics! The kids had never tried Cracker Jack and of course we had to sample the famous Tyler peanut patty (think praline with peanuts).
Our next animal adventure was one step up, and included caged animals at the Caldwell Zoo. I'm not usually a fan of zoos (for many reasons -- I feel bad for the animals and I don't like walking long distances to see the back side of an animal or just a tail or foot sticking out from behind a rock).
However, this zoo was a decent, yet manageable size (we circled it twice in about 3 hours). Also, we timed our visit nicely because we came right after the rain, when the sun was shining and the animals were out soaking up the rays.
Well, some were still hibernating, but at least their patch of sunlight was right next to the viewing window!
It took a bit of effort to find a bird that was still hungry, late in the afternoon.
We did encounter one wild animal while at the zoo: a real live [non-squished] armadillo, who was trying to dig his way out! Unfortunately, his presence drew a crowd, which attracted the attention of the zoo crew, who captured him in a cage. (Still better than the first category of animals!)
The coolest of all our animal encounters had to be Cherokee Trace, the drive-thru safari! We've been to the more popular one down in Glenrose, but I think I preferred this one more (a bit smaller, so the animals were closer together). You definitely want to arrive when it first opens, because all the animals are awake and hungry!
This is the one guy we didn't really want to test! (Turns out, they peck fast, but have excellent precision and only get the food, not your skin!)
Some animals were a bit more polite. The llama was my personal favorite. Very gentle, and not a messy, slobbery eater.
This highland cow was by far the messiest! He left a blob of drool down the inside of our car door. Watch for him at the end of this:
Definitely a fun, animal time!