On a hot summer day, Karen and I took a trip to the Fossil Rim Wildlife Center located in Glen Rose, TX. Now mind you, when this trip was planned, we had no idea that this was going to be the hottest day of the year to date! And as the day grew closer, we were faced with a grim weather forecast and a decision to go or not to go. We both decided we could use the break from our routine and we went.
Now the first think you need to know is that we are what I have begun calling “urban locked”. From where we live, we can’t go anywhere without driving through very populated areas. And depending on the day and time of day, traffic that would make Henry Ford regret making his machine. Add to this the fact that a freakish storm rolled through the area on the Friday afternoon when we were leaving and we ended up a couple of hours later than we had planned just getting out of the DFW metroplex.
But that aside, we made it to our destination with plenty of time to get a good night’s rest and were up and at ‘em in time to get to Fossil Rim as they were opening. Knowing it was going to be a hot day, we wanted and early start.
One of the first things you notice about this area is that you are no longer in the “flatland” of the DFW metroplex. While not exactly mountains, the rolling hills and green foliage is a great break and stress reliever from being surrounded by concrete and traffic 24/7.
One of the animals that is in abundance at Fossil Rim is the Blackbuck. Blackbuck antelope are native to the Indian subcontinent and are classified as endangered in the wild. They stand out from the other animals here by the dark over white contrasting coat and the long spiral horns that are very prominent on the males. The older males are also much darker on their upper coat than the females and young.
The Gemsbok is native to Africa and both the male and female sport long straight horns. It is said that the markings on their face have been the pattern for many tribal masks in some African tribes. As you can see, they do have very unique markings. I commented to Karen that it was so hot that one of this guy’s horns melted!
Another Indian animal here is the Axis Deer. These are easily recognizable by their spots and the black dorsal stripe. The males have a simple set of antlers, usually with three points. While not a large deer, they are very pretty and enjoyable to watch. Do you see the baby hiding in the grass behind mom?
The baby Axis Deer is cute in its own right. If you go the right time of year, you’ll see the little ones hiding in the tall grass, usually not far from both parents as you saw in the previous photograph. Unlike some other animals, their young are protected by both the male and female.
The Aoudad is a very intelligent looking creature, at least to me. It is actually a species of sheep that is native to North Africa and is considered to be in a threatened state in the wild. The long fringe on their throat and curved horns make them stand out amongst the other animals here. You’ll have no trouble identifying the Aoudad when you visit.
The Giraffe is always a favorite here. They really are the gentle giants of the park. There is nothing quite like having them look down at you through the sunroof as you drive by. If you’re lucky, they will even reach down and let you feed them. Just be ready for the tongue! They have an extraordinarily long tongue which they use for wrapping around tree branches to strip off the leaves. So don’t be surprised when it slithers out to take the food you are offering!
After once through the park, it was already past noon and getting hot. Karen and I decided to head into town and grab lunch and then return later in the afternoon with hopes that the temperature would recede a bit. We returned about 4pm, but the outside temperature gauge in the vehicle was still registering 106 degrees! But since this was the reason we came here, we headed back into the park again, knowing that the animals would be trying to stay cool.
And as luck would have it, we were able to catch a few of them in their various ways of remaining cool. Most were simply lounging in the shade. But remember that I said how intelligent looking the Aoudad was? Now you see it in action. Looks like he found one of the coolest places in the center; directly in the water!
Aside from the stable of “exotic” animals that live at Fossil Rim, there are a few more familiar local breeds here as well. One is the White-tailed Deer. Even knowing that they are one of the most abundant deer in North America, they are still very handsome creatures. I couldn’t help but take its picture when this one stopped and stared me down.
Another “common” creature here in Texas, but yet a treat for me, is the Greater Roadrunner. One fact that I was unaware of is that the diet of the Roadrunner consists mostly of smaller animals and even scorpions, spiders, and rattlesnakes! As providence would have it, we spotted one near the side of the road. It sat there for a while preening itself and posing before finally doing some sort of ritualistic puffing up and running away. This is only the second time I’ve been able to get my lens on one of these birds, and the first time I was able to get a decent shot! It never said “beep beep” either, which was somewhat of a disappointment. 🙂
Perhaps you have seen pictures of massive herds of Wildebeests migrating across the plains of Africa. I’m sure that would be a spectacular scene to behold in person. And while the Wildebeests are present at Fossil Rim, their numbers are far fewer that what you may see in the wild. Here you see a dramatic show of a few Wildebeests grazing across the horizon as the sun begins to lower in the sky.
Which brings us back to the Blackbuck. I don’t do a lot of post-processing on images as my goal is mostly to share what I saw, not what I wish I had seen. That said, once in a while I do like to play around. So I thought it fitting to end this post with a silhouetted blackbuck in black and white as the sun was going down. Those identifiable horns really stand out and leave no question as to the animal present.
The Fossil Rim Wildlife Center in Glen Rose, TX should be on your list of places to visit, especially if you live anywhere near the DFW metroplex. This destination makes for a good day trip, or even a weekend get-away like ours. There is plenty to see here, and they even have a Children’s Animal Center where the kids (or kids at heart) can get up close and personal with some of the more domesticated animals. This is really a great place for the whole family and everyone can come away having learned something about nature and the animals we share this planet with. Put this on your short list of places to visit.