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The Second Occasional LoneStarCon Science Fiction Convention and Chili Cook-off, Variously known as the 55th World Science Fiction Convention and LoneStarCon 2, To be held from August 28th through September 1st, in the year 1997, in San Antonio, Texas.

Progress Report #1--San Antonio Zoo
by Fred Duarte

I was born in San Antonio and lived my first five years in the city before my father was called up from reserve to active military status. I have fond memories of returning to the city to visit family and various "tourist attractions". Now I have a three-year-old son and I want him to enjoy some of these activities. We began our adventure at the Zoo.
The San Antonio Zoo was started in 1910 with a private collection of small animals housed at San Pedro Park. In 1914 George W. Brackenridge gave the city a few elk and bison to put on display in Brackenridge Park-the present sight of the zoo which is about a ten minute drive from the major LoneStarCon 2 hotels. By 1929 the zoo was under way with 344 specimens. Today it is respected around the world for its extensive breeding program.
The setting of the zoo is an abandoned rock quarry through which run the headwaters of the San Antonio River. Tall oak, pecan and cypress trees provide welcome shade from the hot Texas sun. Sharing the large city park with the zoo are an old fashioned merry-go-round, a skyride for a bird's-eye view, various sports facilities, and a small train that encircles the entire park.
Karen, Matthew, and I went on a coolish Saturday in December after a morning meeting with the Marriott staff. Thinking ahead, we had brought Matthew's Red Flyer wagon for child transportation ease. There are strollers and wheelchairs for rent at reasonable rates if you cannot bring in your own. The zoo is open every day from 9:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Memorial Day through Labor Day. After Labor Day it closes at 5:00 p.m.. Our costs were $6.00 for adults and $3.00 for Matthew.
Along the fenced walkways throughout the zoo are lots of water fountains, restrooms and restful areas. Small food booths offer hot and cold dishes, sandwiches and Frito pies (for the uninitiated, corn chips with chili and shredded cheese melted on top).
One of the first exhibits we came to was the flamingos. Dozens of the brightly colored birds immediately grabbed our attention as they stalked through their pool. Next were parrots screaming "hello" and other greetings. Matthew tried to imitate them and had a great time. There are large open areas for elephants, giraffes, rhinos, bears of all kinds, and big cats. Trails lead from one ecosystem to another, with each including a selection of animals native to that system. There are also large collections of birds showing an incredible array of plumage, and gibbons (small monkeys) in every shade of fur imaginable.
The zoo offers large ponds full of fish that you can feed with pellets purchased from vending machines. Don't be surprised if a feeding frenzy erupts when the pellets hit the water. We wondered if some of these same fish would end up as dinner for other residents of the zoo.
Barless, moated enclosures make effective use of the natural features of the zoo. One such exhibit is a monkey island which is home to a troop of gelada baboons from the mountains of Ethiopia. Another houses an anteater which, under the zoo's Adopt-an-Animal program, is the mascot for ABC Pest Control Company.
One of the San Antonio Zoo's claims to fame is the extensive breeding programs. Everywhere you look there are plaques with such things as "white rhino born", "baby giraffe born". For eight years the zoo tried to breed aardwolves in captivity, and finally in 1987 two pups were born. The endangered whopping cranes which nest in the Texas gulf coast during the winter have been revitalized in their numbers thanks to the zoo. They also successfully breed golden lion tamarins-one of the most endangered animals in the world.
Other features of the zoo include its reptile house (one of the ten best in the country); its bird house with free flight area; Congo Falls, a gorilla exhibit; an African Waterhole; an Australian Walkabout complete with koalas; and Luby's Kids Corner which includes a boat ride that visits islands representing habitats around the world.
The San Antonio Zoo has so many wonderful exhibits that it's hard to do them justice in just one visit. We stayed for a little over three hours and did not see half of what we wanted to see. Matthew was curling up in his wagon so it was time to leave, but we will be back.
Zoo Facts
[*] The zoo sits on 50 acres of land.
[*] It houses 700 species with more than 3,000 specimens.
[*] The habitats range from humid tropical conditions along the banks of the San Antonio River to semi-arid hillsides of weathered limestone.
[*] Only the Bronx and San Diego Zoos have larger collections of mammals, birds, fish, and reptiles.
[*] The first white rhino born and bred outside Africa was born at the San Antonio Zoo.
[*] Their first black rhino baby was born in 1981.
[*] It is the only zoo in the world that exhibits the whooping crane.
[*] The envy of zoos everywhere, the world-class San Antonio Zoo is truly an enchanted kingdom well worth visiting.

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