Last updated: 6/23/2011
Austin, Texas
Street Address
301 Nature Center Drive
Austin, TX 78746
Mailing Address
301 Nature Center Drive
Austin, TX 78746
phone: 512-327-8181
fax: 512-327-8745
Free, donations are accepted
Sherry Winnette, Education Coordinator
Clark Hancock, Exhibit Development
Michael Adair, Exhibit Specialist
Janice Sturrock, Group Programs Coordinator
Elizabeth McVeety, Landscaping Specialist
Juan Valera, NR Division Manager
Rachel Anderson, Programs Instructor Specialist

The Austin Nature and Science Center (ANSC) is Central Texas' only living nature and science museum. The ANSC is situated on an eighty acre preserve containing woodlands (80%), and a meadow area (20%). Two well-fed ponds, a major lake, a wet weather creek, and geological escarpments are some of the features on our site. This diverse location gives us a natural abundance of vegetation and wildlife. The collections of the ANSC consist of Live Animals, Non-Living Specimens, Library, and Native Flora and Fauna. Rather than being stored in cabinets, all of these collections contribute toward fulfilling our mission, of providing hands-on educational experiences in our interactive programs, exhibits and nature trails, as mandated by our Statement of Purpose. The Eco-Detective Trail is an outdoor pond exhibit and invites the visitors to discover signs of Austin Wildlife and the plant life they depend on. The Live Wildlife exhibits contain more than fifty native Texas mammals, birds, and reptiles that cannot be returned to the wild because of injury or human upbringing. The Discovery Lab allows hands-on experiences through seven mini-labs that let children and adults assume the role of a scientist.

Our major work in progress is the development of The Dino Pit, an outdoor paleontological exhibit that will be located within the ANSC facility in Zilker Park. It will consist of a large sand pit filled with fossil replicas held at the Texas Memorial Museum, interpretive areas outside the sand pit, dinosaur trackways, and an overlook structure than can serve as an outdoor classroom.The purpose of the exhibit will be to educate visitors about major fossil discoveries around Austin and Texas. As part of existing exhibits and educational programs at the ANSC, it will enhance the center with the goal of giving Texans an even greater appreciation and interest in the natural environments of Texas, past and present.


In 1960 the Austin Natural Science Association was formed by fifteen community groups and the Parks and Recreation Department to preserve the natural environment of Austin. The Austin Nature and Science Center has grown form that early beginning in a garage apartment, to the Deep Eddy Bathhouse for many years, and in 1987 to our present site in Zilker Park next to the eighty acre Zilker Preserve. The Natural Science Guild of Austin has long provided docents for educational programs, exhibit grants, special events and projects. The ANSC is a facility of the City of Austin Parks and Recreation Department.

Most of our resident wildlife were permanently crippled by hunters, telephone lines, cars, or people who thought wild animals could be pets. We want to foster respect for wildness and the importance of wild animals and their habitats in our world. Whenever possible animals that have been rehabilitated are released into an appropriate natural area. When they cannot be released they could become permanent residents here to be used in the educational programs and exhibits. Wildlife Rescue is the local organization that helps locate trained volunteers to care for wounded wildlife found by the public.

Artifact Collections

Live Animals: One hundred and forty three live animals are permanently cared for at the Austin Nature Center. These animals have physical or behavioral problems that prevent them from being returned to the wild. 18 mammals (including a fox, bobcat, coyote, and porcupine); 29 birds (including owls, vultures, and hawks); 42 reptiles; 43 amphibians (including several permitted endangered Barton Springs salamanders); 12 invertebrates; 10 species of fish Other minor species (not including a mouse colony and meal worms used solely for food, a Madagascar hissing cockroach colony, or our bee hive);

Non-Living Specimens: 1) Mounted Specimens: 64 mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians are museum mounted and used in exhibits; 2) Study Specimens and Parts: 264 mammals, 192 birds, 157 reptiles, 13 amphibians, 40 fish, 300 arthropods, 108 other invertebrates, and 104 mollusks are all kept in discovery boxes, educational program boxes, or collections storage; 3) Geological Specimens: 217 Central Texas rocks,219 fossils; 4) Pressed Plants: 161 native plants have been collected, identified, pressed, mounted, and stored in our herbarium for use with interpretive programs and exhibits; 5) Flora and Fauna: 250 different types of grasses, trees, and shrubs have been inventoried and now are being mapped. Over 90 species of birds (including Broad Winged Hawks) have been spotted 15 different species of mammals have been observed (including deer, skunk, fox, squirrel, and opossum)

Educational Programs

Educational Programs: "Teacher Resource Guide" is printed annually and contains information on educational field trips and outreach programs. I ) Science Based School Field Trip experiences that complement our School Districts' curriculum and Texas Education Agency Essential Elements. School Programs are one to two hour presentations made to schools, scouts, 4-H, recreation centers, preschools, and other groups that coordinate with life/environmental/physical science curriculum units required by the Austin Independent School District and the Texas Education Agency. Because of the high quality of our programs, we have an informal contract with AISD to provide a field trip for every second grader in the district. Topics include Dinosaur Detectives, Wild about Wildlife, Birds of Prey, Texas Endangered animals, Pond Study, and Minerals, Rocks and Fossils. Since December 1992, the ANSC has been certified by the Texas Education Agency as an official Texas environmental education facility for certified teacher's workshops. 2) Outreach Programs bring our education programs to any group within a 100 mile radius. Our Youth At Risk program introduces the Central Texas Environment to soci-economically disadvantaged citizens (mostly minority children and teens who are at risk of dropping out of high school and/ or of joining gangs) through outdoor and adventure activities. 3) A diversity of Public Programs (for preschool - adults). Nature's Way Preschool and The Lunch Bunch are two new preschool programs offered to 64 children per week. These programs have been largely responsible for a significant increase in Earned Income. Other public programs include Babies & Beasties, Summer Day Camp, Specialty Camps, Counselors In Training, Junior Wildlife Keepers, and Preschool Saturdays. Adult adventures include Adult Caving, Breakfast with the Birds, and a South Llano Canoe Weekend. Over $3,780 of scholarships from the Austin Natural Science Association and $3,119 from the ANSC were awarded to economically deprived children for our Public Programs in FY 1997-1998. All exhibitions are available for tour. No exhibitions are available for loan through the ANSC. Educational materials are not available for loan through the ANSC


Regular Publications: Monthly Direct Line Letter; Quarterly Newsletter ;Annual Teacher's Resource Guide; Annual Public Programs Guide (includes Preschool and Summer Camps); Regular Exhibition Catalogues: Photographic Field Guide to ANSC plants and butterflies with over 200 pictures ; Photographic Guide for ANSC Live Animals Exhibits

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Charles Town, West Virginia

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