Rio Grande Valley, Texas

At least twice a week, Calvin Bentsen sets out at daybreak to visit his rhinos.

Armed with a bag of apples, he aims his Chevy Suburban through the gates of $ his huge Spanish-style home in McAllen, Texas, and heads north for his ranch in the rangeland. McAllen lies in the Rio Grande valley, just above the Mexican border, but its architectural boot print owes more to Los Angeles than Lonesome Dove. The city is a sprawling network of commercial strips, trailer parks and low-slung shingle-and-stucco developments ringed by citrus groves and cotton fields. If you think this overworked stretch of...

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