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Bandera Exotic Wildlife Museum begins capital campaign

Special to the Courier

Pictured: This elevation shows the proposed exterior of the Bandera Exotic Wildlife Museum to be constructed near the corner of Old San Antonio Highway and Buck Creek Boulevard, former site of the county's juvenile probation department.

One of the unique features of the Bandera Exotic Wildlife Museum will be an International Hall, complete with a full-body giraffe mount, African masks, sculptures and carvings from around the world.

Early last year, the board of directors of the new Bandera Exotic Wildlife Museum presented plans to the Bandera City Council about plans to build a state-of-the-art facility within the city limits.

The museum will be housed on an eight-acre campus near the corner of Old San Antonio Highway and Buck Creek Boulevard. This week, the new Bandera Exotic Wild Life Museum move closer to reality as the board announced plans to begin a capital campaign.

The seeds for the museum were planted when Bandera County resident Juan Infante, president of the Juan Infante Foundation, decided to make a gift of over 100 full-body mounts of animals he had hunted around the world over his lifetime.

Infante took up hunting again in earnest 15 years ago - the second time around for full body mounts for eventual exhibition in the proposed world-class facility.

Infante, who has been described as "Bandera County's best kept secret," has owned Medina's Rocky River Ranch for 35 years. "I spend six months here and six months in Mexico," he said in an earlier interview. "I make my money there, but I spend it here."

Regarding the Bandera Exotic Animal Museum, Infante explained, "Finding a home for these animals is really important to me. It's my prime motivation because, after all, I took their lives."

Following Infante's lead, other exotic game hunters offered additional prized full body mounts. These mounts will be the only types displayed at the museum.

The dream for the museum is to provide the general public and physically challenged individuals an opportunity to understand the habitats and habits of exotic wildlife and most importantly about wild life conservation. Currently there is more exotic wildlife in Texas than any other place in the world.

The museum will feature a "Sensory Safari" with easy access for the blind and physically challenged patrons to experience, sight, sound and touch of selected animals. School tours and both guided and unguided tours will also be available.

The museum will include dioramas of animals from the Serengeti, a savannah, swamps, a rain forest, arctic tundra and from mountains across the globe. Also featured will be an International Hall with a full-size giraffe - the selected logo of the new museum - African masks, sculptures and carvings from around the world. In addition to the dioramas, the museum will include a gift shop, coffee shop and a community room theatre with state-of-the-art interactive technology for lectures, classes, meetings and presentations.

Future plans for the over $4 million dollar project will include a trail through the campus dotted with full-size sculptures of exotic animal as well.

"The Bandera Exotic Wildlife Museum will be an additional tourism feature adding to our already successful tourism industry in Bandera," said a spokesman for the project.

For information about the museum, call the toll free number 1-800-975-8081.