Abilene is a city in Taylor and Jones counties in west central Texas. The population was 117,063 according to the 2010 census making it the twenty-fifth most populous city in the state of Texas. It is the principal city of the Abilene Metropolitan Statistical Area, which had a 2006 estimated population of 158,063. It is the county seat of Taylor County. Dyess Air Force Base is located on the west side of the city. Abilene is located off Interstate 20, between exits 279 on its western edge and 292 on the east. Abilene is 150 miles (240 km) west of Fort Worth, Texas. The city is looped by I-20 to the north, US 83/84 on the west, and Loop 322 to the east. A railroad divides the city down the Center into north and south. The historic downtown area is on the north side of the railroad.
Abilene has two school districts within the city limits, the Abilene Independent School District (AISD) and Wylie Independent School District (WISD). The local high schools are Abilene High School and Cooper High School of AISD and Wylie High School of WISD. A new building on the Hardin-Simmons University campus serves AISD high school students as a magnet school, called Holland Medical High School, as well as HSU students as the Holland School of Sciences and Mathematics.
The Holland Medical High School is affiliated with Hendrick Medical Center, which is across Ambler Avenue from the university campus. Abilene also has a new high school that opened in the fall of 2009, the Academy of Technology, Engineering, Mathematics, and Science (A.T.E.M.S.). It is a S.T.E.M. school, which focuses on computer science, engineering science, and mathematics. The school only accepts about 100 students each year, provides students with their own laptop computers,(having a 1-1 ratio of students to computers) and is located inside the Abilene campus of Texas State Technical College.
Recreation and entertainment:
The Abilene park system includes 29 parks, occupying a total of 1,247.56 acres (5.0487 km2). In addition, three athletic complexes located throughout the city are under the jurisdiction of the parks department. The Abilene Zoo is a popular attraction in Abilene, boasting several hundred animals of various species. It hosts educational and summer programs as well as special events throughout the year. Currently, the zoo is undergoing expansion with the addition of a black rhino exhibit this year. Next to arrive will be South American Maned Wolves and cougars as well as an expanded giraffe exhibit and a wetlands exhibit. The Elm Creek backyard area will be built to house locally found animals such as armadillos, skunks, and river otters.