945 CR 118, Copperas Cove (254) 547-3700
Open Daily, including holidays, March - Sept • Guests admitted at 9am - 5pm, complete your tour and depart by 6pm. October - February • Guests admitted 9am - 3pm to complete tour and depart by 5pm.
For 32 years, the Friedel family has been working to preserve some incredible wonders of the animal kingdom for Texans to enjoy up close and personal.
Topsey is a natural, free-range safari and petting zoo on 350 acres in the Hill Country. Guests can see a great variety of exotic domestic and wild animals from around the world, some of which are endangered and even extinct in the wild.
When Pop Friedel bought the property in 1988, he spent seven years preparing and perfecting the environment and acquiring a wonderful blend of animals that would live and thrive together before opening to the public. That passion for nature, and love of animals is still evident everywhere you look, including his family members who are carrying on the tradition and conservation.
When to go
When you meet Stephanie Friedel (above), you know immediately how much she loves being there, caring for the animals, and making sure every visitor’s experience is memorable. She explains the Ranch is open every day of the year, including Christmas. Current operations, other than standard social distancing, are completely normal and going very well. She says there are generally more visitors on weekends, but the drive trail covers hundreds of acres so vehicles are able to safari at their own pace; the trail averages anywhere from 45 minutes to two hours. “Visitors are able to pull over if they wish,” Stephanie says. “If you want to spend extra time taking photos, wait for the zebras to get a drink of water, or enjoy feeding the camels for a long time, there is no worry about traffic on the trail.”
For the safety of the animals, ranch rules include keeping your windows all the way up or down for the duration of your drive. So, if you don’t like the heat, you can keep your windows closed and enjoy the view with the A/C on high. Same goes in the winter if you want to keep your heat on and stay cozy inside.
A Great Daytrip
To start, Topsey is about an hour from Georgetown, and the trip there is a beautiful drive through Texas country. Admission is very reasonable for a day of adventure and you can feed animals all day long for $1 per bag. Everything you see, from the animal pens to the restrooms, is well-maintained, well-marked, and—specifically the humans’ areas—spotless. There is also an air-conditioned gift shop with games, toys, snacks and drinks, and apparel; some purchases help support conservation efforts outside the ranch.
A Wild Time
On our recent visit, among other spirited moments, we fed dozens of goats, tried to get a non-blurry photo of extremely energetic squirrel monkeys, and visited with Lulu (at right), a pregnant kangaroo with a coat as soft as a chinchilla.
The animals are accustomed to their human visitors and are not shy about getting nose to nose with passengers. They have plenty of furry respect for vehicles and do not block the path or leave any traces other than a dusty reminder from their treat-seeking hugs. While on the drive, passengers must stay in their vehicles but if you have concerns or questions about animal behavior, all of the staff are well-versed on the species they care for, and are happy to answer questions about what to expect.
Plus—and I’m hard-pressed to think of any other adventures that allow this—if you enjoyed the view and want more (and it’s at least one hour before closing), you can turn around and do the trail again!