Disclosure: My family and I received complimentary entrance to this attraction, along with lunch. I was not compensated in any other way and all opinions and photos (except for the aerial view of Tower Creek, which is property of Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch) are mine.
If you’ve ever visited Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch, you know the feeling that greets you when you enter the gates: pure, unadulterated excitement at the possibility spotting rare and exotic animals and the delight of feeding them from your car, seeing how they live in nature, and watching them tend to their young. It’s an experience like none other in San Antonio.
Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch is one of our favorite places to go in San Antonio. For years, my kids have referred to it as the “Drive-thru Zoo,” but it’s so much more than that.
In addition to the drive-through section, the Ranch also has a petting barnyard, a walk-a-bout, the Safari Grill, a gift shop, and now the two-mile-long Tower Creek section with seven new species of animals and more of their famed giraffes. Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch celebrates the grand opening of Tower Creek on April 1. My family and I took a complimentary preview tour of this new section earlier this month and I can’t wait for you to see it!
The first thing you’ll notice when you arrive at this new section (located inside the drive-through portion of the Ranch, just before you come to the zebras) is the sweeping Hill Country view ahead of you and the steep, almost plunging hill you drive down as you descend, slowly, into Tower Creek.
Cool fact: when you’re at the top of that hill, you’re in Comal County but when you reach the bottom (and while you’re in the entire Tower Creek section), you’re in Bexar County!
On your drive downhill, check out the limestone “stair steps” on your left. Over 31,000 cubic feet of limestone was milled from the bluff and used to create the two-mile road that leads you through Tower Creek.
Cool fact: The amount of limestone milled at this bluff would cover a football field, goal post to goal post, 18 feet deep!
The centerpiece of 50-acre Tower Creek is the giraffe enclosure which houses four juvenile giraffes, ranging in age from three to eight years old (a giraffe’s lifespan is usually 25-30 years). As they become accustomed to their new living quarters in the Ranch, these young giraffes will begin to approach the vehicles that drive through and visitors can feed them from their cars.
Cool fact: Did you know that a herd of giraffes is called a “tower?”
On the day we visited, the Tower Creek giraffes were still a little shy. They looked over at us, inquisitively, checking us out and, probably, wondering why we’re so short and why we move so slowly!
Wasswa and Nakato, the world famous twin giraffes born at Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch last May, still live in an enclosure near the Ranch’s entrance, with their parents. They are the second set of living twin giraffes in the U.S. and the ninth set of giraffe twins worldwide. Watch the Ranch’s website for details on their first birthday party, planned for early May.
Cool fact: When a giraffe is born, he or she will fall six feet to the ground and they’re up and running within an hour.
Keeping the giraffes company in Tower Creek are many new-to-the-Ranch friends, including Impala, Zebu, Grant’s Gazelles, Sable Antelope, and the African endangered species Nile Lechwe, Arabian Oryx, Dama Gazelle, and Bongo Antelope, all of whom roam freely over 50 acres.
Tower Creek also contains a parking lot, restrooms, the Safari Sweet Shop (which will serve sweet treats not available at Safari Grill, including cups of Bluebell ice cream, homemade fudge, shakes, and malts), and a shaded picnic pavilion.
Of course the rest of Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch is filled with 500 animals made up of 45 different species from around the world. The zebras are some of my favorites to see because they always surprise you with their (truly) wild antics.
Tips for a great day at Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch:
- Your ticket price allows you entrance to the Ranch all day long. Drive through as many times as you like.
- Plan to spend some time wandering through the petting barnyard and walk-a-bout. The lemurs there often provide some of the best entertainment. On our recent visit, when we found two lemurs mating, the following exchange took place:
Waylon, our 6yo: What are they doing?
Delaney, our 8yo: Giving each other piggy back rides!
Um. Yes! That’s right! “Piggy back rides.” Whew. Thanks to Delaney’s innocent explanation, it looks like I can successfully delay the “birds and bees” talk for at least a little while longer! While I’m not sharing any seductive lemur photos here (This is a family site, y’all!), this acrobatic lemur demonstrates why he and his friends shouldn’t be missed on a visit to Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch.
- Bring in your own water and/or snacks. There are plenty of shaded picnic areas, both outside the Safari Grill and under the pavilion at Tower Creek. Picnics are welcome.