Over the past few weeks, we’ve had it buzzing around in our brains that space-wise, we could finagle a way to have Camp Oak Hallows double as an animal and wildlife rescue center, a “zoo.” But finance-wise, we’d have to contract with a vet or animal tech college to afford upkeep that they could use as a teaching space, would have to have regular zoo hours, and it would require additional staff on our part. Is this an investment we should consider further? Is this something we should start drawing into the plans?
The potential for the caring and keeping of bats and bees (pollinators!) as well as larger wildlife like the North American Black Bear, several species of fish, opossums (nature’s pest control specialists) and raccoons, even turtles, reptiles, birds, goats and deer, all add to complicating the fine balance of cost-benefit that we weigh as we design and masterplan the grounds for Camp. On one hand, how cool would it be to name cabins after the animal habitat nearby? “The Den.” “The Aviary.” “Snake Eyes Cove,” “Turtle Bend,” “Cat’s Cradle.” The concept of having our cabins be available semi-publicly as retreat rentals would be an added source of income and would make an excellent business model for practical skill learning on the Camp School side of things. But insurance and security measures would be our burden to bear.
With so many already existing facilities, like the Cameron Park Zoo (Waco), San Antonio and Austin Zoos, the Downtown Aquarium (Houston), does Texas really need another wildlife encounter operation? Or would the teaching resources that come with it be too great an opportunity to pass up? We’d love you input, so don’t be afraid to give us an ear full.