The Exotic Resort Zoo was established in 1995, after a couple of crazy cajuns fell in love with the Texas Hill Country. Dennis and Marilyn Bacque found the perfect retirement getaway here in Johnson City – the sprawling 137 acres was only supposed to be a private retreat… However, their plans changed after Marilyn brought home a baby Canadian Elk named Dottie.
Dottie quickly became the center of attention. She soon inspired Dennis and Marilyn to travel the United States to acquire more animal friends to keep her company. After a few short months, the couple had collected over 100 exotic animals! These animals may be originally native to other continents like Africa, Asia and Europe – however, our animals have been born and raised in the United States. The animals were brought to the States years and years ago to live on private ranches like ours and be treated like kings and queens! Now, when you visit us, you are likely to see some of our original bloodlines! So, most of the animals these days have been born and raised on our property!
Now, we’ll be the first to tell you that animals eat a lot of food. The resources were growing thin when it came to taking care of these precious animals. That’s when Dennis struck the idea of a lifetime: A public safari park. Dennis quickly purchased an old Bronco Scout, cut the top off and gave it some hand-painted zebra stripes. He personally toured seven people at a time through the park. All the while, continuing to develop the property by clearing the land to add roads, fences and buildings. Dennis and Marilyn truly worked their tails off.
Over time, the couple enlarged their tour vehicles as more and more people visited the park. Now, our tractor-trams can hold a whopping 40 visitors at a time and we have a total of 5 trams! During COVID times, we allowed our visitors to take it back old school by taking their own vehicle through the park. Our animals adapted beautifully and were not shy at all when it comes to visiting with our guests from their vehicle! We are eternally thankful for our Drive-Through visitors, but very excited to have returned back to normal operations, our Guided Tours, and we would love to see you!
Dennis and Marilyn are still found at the center of it all – however, now with the help of their son, Donavan, and a few more loyal employees to keep up with the abundance of work that running a safari park entails. We have also since lost our precious Dottie due to old age, but her incredible spirit remains an inspiration and testament of all that we are here at the Exotic Resort Zoo.
Visitors over the years may also remember a few more special critters loved and lost throughout our many years in the business: Omar and Humphrey the Camels, Olivia the Oryx, Tiny Tim the Watusi, Albert the Kangaroo and even Sue the North American Bison. Unfortunately, in this line of work, we see loss. Luckily, captive exotics can see a life expectancy more than triple the typical expectancy, so such loss is few and far between. One thing that we can stand firm in is that our animals are given the best life here at the Exotic Resort Zoo because they are truly an extension of our ever-growing family.
Create some memories that will last a lifetime with us. We can’t wait to share our special critters with you and yours!