Fossil Rim

As an end-of-summer outing that could mostly be enjoyed from inside our air-conditioned car, we took the kids to Fossil Rim Wildlife Center in Glen Rose, Texas, about an hour’s drive from Fort Worth. For those even newer to Texas than I am, Fossil Rim is a wild animal park where you slowly drive your car through a designated route, stopping along the way to feed a variety of wildlife—animals that are so used to visitors that they walk from car to car seeking out food. While the more activist among vegetarians might take issue with any zoo-like arrangement, and the feeding situation did give me pause, after some thought, I feel good about supporting Fossil Rim. Yes, the animals walk right up to your car for food, enjoying what’s indisputably an easier meal that they’d have to go after in the wild, but they are, in fact, not in the wild—they’re being cared for by a staff—so you can leave any guilt about their diminished foraging skills at the opening gate. (There’s been much talk lately of not feeding truly wild animals; here’s one informative summary of the many reasons you shouldn’t.) At Fossil Rim, the food you give the animals is purchased from the center itself—no stray Cheetos in sight. And the center is also involved with research and breeding of near-extinct animals. We enjoyed helping the kids to identify animals none of us had ever seen in person before, as well as close encounters with fearless zebras, ostrich, and deer, among others. Vegetarians take note: Fossil Rim's Overlook area, located halfway through the drive, has a café that offers Gardenburgers as well as frozen treats. If you go on a discount Wednesday as we did, however, go early or bring a picnic, because it might take longer than you think to get to the Overlook.

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