WACO — Growing up I use to take my younger brother to the zoo—now as a 17-year-old he still enjoys going. Because my younger brother and I are seven years apart, it was hard finding activities or trips that were age appropriate and enjoyable for both of us, but visits to the zoo always were.

My fiancé and I decided to take him to the Cameron Park Zoo while he was here for the week visiting—it was the first time for all of us. The zoo is a little over an hour drive from Fort Hood. The zoo was impressively large with bodies of water throughout. I absolutely loved the zoo. It was beautiful and well-kept. My fiancé and I both agreed that we liked the Cameron Zoo more than the Austin Zoo.

The Cameron Park Zoo took us about an hour and a half to walk through everything, but we were also rushing a little bit at the end. We could have easily spent two hours there if we had not arrived an hour and a half before it closed. After 3 p.m. the zoo gives a  discount to all visitors, so we unknowingly saved some money. The zoo also offers a military discount. My fiancé was adamant about seeing all the animals at the zoo, so he made sure we were all speed-walking for the last 25 minutes of our visit.

The zoo had a great variety of animals, such as leopards, a baby black bear, sea otters, elephants, giraffes, snakes, bats, owls, a rhinoceros, birds, lions, a tiger, turtles, fish, sharks, frogs, and so much more. The zoo had indoor and outdoor animals exhibits. There was an aquarium, a reptile room, and an indoor bat and owl exhibit. The zoo even had a playground, a snack bar and a gift shop.

One of our favorite animals at the zoo were the leopards. While passing by their habitat, a female and male leopard began play fighting. The female leopard was irritated that the male leopard kept jumping on top of her, so she started fighting with him, so he would knock it off.

I loved so many things about the Cameron Park Zoo. I had never seen an indoor bat and owl habitat at a zoo before—I love bats. The bat and owl habitat only had black lights inside, making the viewing experience ever so eerie. There was also a lot of bodies of water and shade throughout the zoo, which made us feel as though we were explorers in the rainforest.

The Cameron Park Zoo is open Monday-Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. The zoo is open year round except on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s. For more information about the zoo visit, http://www.cameronparkzoo.com/.