In the Beginning...
The Exotic Resort Zoo first began in 1995, after a married couple with a passion for animals, became inspired to take on the adventure of a lifetime…all because of a very unique (and cherished) companion who became a motivating and life-long inspiration to the future and culture of their next family business adventure.
The Ideal Plan?
As you can imagine, developing and operating a bustling drive-through safari zoo isn't the top of the list for most people! And it certainly wasn’t the case for these two Louisiana-born Cajuns, even though they already had a related experience raising their own emu and ostrich as the owners of Big Bird’s Ranch.
That was when Dennis & Marilyn Bacque were inspired to move to the sprawling Hill Country, so they could enjoy the relaxed and natural beauty of the Texas Hill Country they fell in love with so many years before…
At that time, they were creating their own personal paradise and retirement getaway to be shared as a private weekend retreat with close family and friends.
That all changed when they first met a young Canadian Elk...and with a personality like no other animal they've encountered, she immediately became an extension of the family and traveled with them on adventures across the US. They were inspired to name her Dottie (on account of the speckled dots on her young coat) and she would go on to provide the legacy and inspiration to grow The Exotic Resort Zoo into the interactive and unique safari immersion experience that it is today.
While already living the dream of developing this hill-country ranch, they knew a great deal of work was still ahead of them. Before they took another step, many obstacles had to be overcome for this animal haven and interactive safari adventure to become a reality, especially when you consider that the main goal was for this wildlife preserve to be special and memorable for one and all...where guests and families could come and enjoy personal hands-on experiences with hundreds of animals, over and over again...
You see, at the start, the property was filled with cedar trees and completely undeveloped and cactus-filled pastures, with the rocky limestone and granite terrain that the hill country is known for. Through hard work and determination, they dug the initial animal watering ponds, developed several roads and built their first petting zoo enclosure (that still stands today).
All the while, they continued clearing hundreds of acres of cedar trees and surrounding the property with an 8-foot fence to provide a safe habitat for Dottie and her new friends. With Dottie tagging along, Dennis & Marilyn began venturing out across the US in search of other unique four-legged companions to love and raise at their developing nature preserve!
And So It Began...
Soon, Dottie would introduce many other pasture friends to their new home - like several American Bison, Scimitar-horned Oryx, Blackbuck and Fallow Deer, as well as numerous other types of antelope and African hoof stock.
The Exotic Resort Zoo quickly grew to over 100 animals and it quickly became apparent that maintaining their dream would require more resources than they could provide on their own. They went out and purchased a few old Scout Internationals…cut the tops off, painted them in a zebra-stripe safari theme and officially started giving personal tours to groups of 7 people at a time – sharing their stories and personal accounts of their adventures with many of the animals.
Since then, hundreds more animals have been born and raised here...each with especially unique backstories and filled with inspiration! All beginning with the one and only, Dottie the Elk, who inspired two decades of memorable and educational entertainment for many thousands of families!
- Sharing a warm embrace with Dottie the Canadian Elk; the original inspiration for this Zoo
- Seeing the massive and ever-growing horns of ‘Tiny Tim’ the Watusi Bull
- A feed bucket drinking act with Omar the Camel (some would call this a 'disappearing act') when he borrowed their bucket only to drink it all down in a few gulps!
- Shaking hands and making the acquaintance of Albert the Kangaroo
- And many others with prior playful characters like Sue the Scimitar-horned Oryx, Mookie the Kinkajou, and especially gently rubbing the neck of Jake the Giraffe…
These days, you may not see all of the interesting & playful characters from over the years, like Sue the Scimitar-horned Oryx, Mookie the Kinkajou, or Jake the Giraffe…but you will see many others like...
- Gomar the Dromedary camel (Watch out, he dishes out kisses!)
- Misty the tireless Llama (She's famous for following the tours)
- Snowman the White Elk (He also loves to greet you on tour!)
- And many, many more that you will get to personally interact with when you come for your own tour!
Your Own Guided Safari Tour Experience...
These are but a few names of the strongest personalities that have blessed them over the years, and while each of you may enjoy different encounters, you can be sure that you too will take part in a unique adventure when you come to and enjoy your own immersion safari tour!