Exoticintroduced from another country: not native to the place where found.

Exotic animal usually refers to grass/plant eating, single or cloven-hoofed mammal and birds that are not native to Texas.  These animals all within four scientific families; Cervidae (deer), Bovidae (antelope and cattle), Equidae (zebras and horses) and Ratite (flightless birds: ostrich and emu).

 Spanish explorers who arrived in the New World during the 16th Century brought the first swine, the feral hogs.  In 1854, Secretary of War Jefferson Davis, petitioned the US Congress for $30,000.00 to purchase and import camels.  On May 14, 1856, 34 camels were unloaded at Indianola, Texas.  The camels were used to navigate military supply routes between Texas to California.  This became known as the “Camel Experiment and were the first non-native species to be introduced to the Lone Star State.

In the 1930s nilgai antelope, native to India, were released on the vast South Texas King Ranch.  This marked the beginning of exotic game activity which would expand throughout the entire state.  These include, not limited to, Axis deer, Sika deer, Elk, Fallow deer, blackbuck, Thompson’s Gazelle, Feral Hogs.  Exotic fowl as well have been introduced; emu, ostrich,  rhea, and cassowary.





In the 1960s, the San Antonio Zoo had a surplus of animals.  Fred Stark, the curator of the zoo, approached Charlie Schreiner III, owner of the YO Ranch, recommending releasing some of these exotics on the ranch to see if they would adapt.  The blackbuck antelope and Aouda sheep were the first to arrive on the ranch soon followed by axis deer.  The purpose was to breed the animals for conservation.  The animals thrived and were soon sold to zoos and some even sent back to their native lands to replenish declining herds.  In a short time, breeding was so successful herd management was required.  What began as a conservation project became a cashflow stream for the ranch.  During hard years, during drought, opening the ranch to hunters became a source of income for the ranch.  Other exotic species were released on the property, including Fallow deer, sika deer, barasingha, and Pere David deer (which were once near extinction).  Some of the species were designated for hunting while many others were not and were protected for conservation.

There are over a hundred distinct exotic species on ranches throughout the state of Texas.  These ranches provide an opportunity to view and hunt animals native to countries such as England, China, Japan, India, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Botswans, Iran, Pakistan, and many others.

Exotic animals thrive in Texas because of the warm climate and similar terrain to the countries they are native to. Ranch land that once supported cattle now is the home to exotic species.  According to the Exotic Wildlife Association, a Texas based group with over 5,000-member rancher, there are more than a million non-native hoofstock exotics that belong to 125 different species.  The exotic industry brings in over $2 billion in revenue each year.

The most common reason for having exotic animals in Texas is hunting.  There is not a closed seasons on exotics so it provides a year-round income source for property owners.  Also, there a many exotic operations that are breeding facilities.  These ranches provide research on species that are listed as endangered or are in danger of extinction in their native lands.  Many Texas raised exotics are returned in an attempt to revive and increase remaining native populations.  Of course, many landowners have exotics on their land because they enjoy sharing their resources with these animals!

Ranch Connection is a Texas Land Brokerage – we do not provide advice to our clients about legal and financial investing/planning maters.

Ranch Connection is a full service Land and Ranch Real Estate Brokerage established in 1984.

If we can assist you with selling your ranch/land please contact us at cynthia@ranchconnection.com

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By:  Dave Norris – davenorris@ranchconnection.com