Abandoned, But Not Forsaken

Exploring the Old Zoo Nature Trail in Cisco, Texas

Terrye Turpin
3 min readMay 5


There is something about deserted spaces that draws out the explorer in me. Horror fan that I am, I know these are the spots where the paranormal linger. I would trespass into every vacant house if it weren’t for the threat of arrest. Instead, I feed my curious spirit with estate sales, circling rooms recently emptied of their human inhabitants and filled instead with the bric-a-brac they have left behind. No ghosts linger there, the only thing wafting through these places is the scent of mothballs and menthol.

I’d love the chance to wander through an empty asylum, a shuttered convent, a derelict hospital building. Any place filled with spiders and memories. I first heard about the abandoned zoo in Cisco through a YouTube video. “We have to go there,” I told my husband.

We arrived in Cisco at noon, early enough for a picnic lunch, then headed outside town to the zoo. The zoo had operated in the 1920s and closed in the 1930s. In 2021, A nonprofit organization, SAFE (Students, Athletics, Families, and Education) stepped in to clear the trash and build hiking paths.

The trail wound through the crumbling remains of the concrete structures built to house the animals.

We wandered past rusted metal bars, peered into cave-like structures.

Had our path been lit in twilight instead of bright, mid-day sun, I might have imagined the sad calls of the creatures who had lived in these enclosures.