Fort Worth Zoo

Fort Worth Zoo

Infobox zoo
zoo_name=Fort Worth Zoo
location=Fort Worth, Texas, USA

The oldest continuous zoo site in Texas, the Fort Worth Zoo was founded in 1909 with one lion, two bear cubs, an alligator, a coyote, a peacock and a few rabbits. From these humble beginnings, the Zoo has grown into housing more than 350 native and exotic species, and has been named as a top zoo in the nation by "Family Life" magazine, the "Los Angeles Times" and "USA Today", one of the top zoos in the South by "Southern Living" Reader's Choice Awards, and has been placed in the top 10 zoos in the United States.

Main Exhibits

World of Primates - (1992) - This convert|2.5|acre|m2|sing=on indoor and outdoor exhibit features sights and sounds of the rainforest with large cascading waterfalls and lush tropical foliage. As visitors exit the atrium, they are led to a winding boardwalk passing through a canopy of trees and vines growing above and below. There they can visit many different primates including gorillas, bonobos, orangutangs, mandrills and gibbons living in recreated natural habitats.

Asian Falls - (1992) - Carved out of an existing hillside, Asian Falls creates a dramatic setting that features some of the Zoo's most popular exhibits. The exhibit's vibrant habitats are connected with a winding boardwalk above many of the featured animals; from Asian elephants and one-horned rhinos, to Indochinese tigers and sun bears.

Raptor Canyon - (1993) - Raptor Canyon is home to four species of raptors, some of which are endangered. The large area is designed to allow many of the rare birds fly over the heads of the visitors below.

At the entrance, guests find themselves in an aviary where they can view pairs of African Crowned Eagles and Andean Condors. These large raptors are separated from the public by a mesh barrier. As visitors continue on they will see 2 Milky Eagle-Owls, a pair of Harpy Eagles, a pair of Bateleur Eagles and another Milky Eagle-Owl.

Chee·tos Cheetahs - (1994) - This exhibit is divided into three areas, housing three African species. One yard is designed to resemble a forest clearing—grassy space dotted with mature trees and a drinking pool. This makes for an ideal habitat for the Fort Worth Zoo's bongos.

The cheetah yard is grassy as well, with umbrellas of tall trees and small hills throughout. This exhibit is home to a group of cheetahs, which are often relaxing in the shadows. The Zoo's warthogs also reside in this area and have a yard that is full of cool mud for wallowing.

Great Barrier Reef - An aquatic exhibit with three saltwater tanks containing more than 10,000 gallons of water. Great Barrier Reef is full of 500 vibrant fish,coral and even sharks.

Great Barrier Reef is located in the Zoo’s renovated Australian Outback, which also houses red kangaroos and wallabies. (Formerly named Koala Outback, the exhibit was renamed Australian Outback after the Zoo’s one koala was returned to San Diego Zoo in January 2006, after being on loan to the Zoo since 2000.)

Visitors will see a diverse collection of Australian aquatic wildlife spanning 86 species (45 fish species, three small- to medium-size shark species, 30 coral species and eight invertebrate species.) Among them are clownfish, black-tip reef sharks, angelfish, brain corals, moray eels and sea apples.

African Savannah - The Fort Worth Zoo's African Savannah exhibit is home to some of Africa's most distinctive animals. Guests can get a bird's eye view of these animals from a raised boardwalk. From here the rhinos and giraffes that can be watched.The white rhinos that make Fort Worth home can often be seen resting together in the shade or wallowing in the mud. Africa's other species of rhino, the black rhino, can be seen as well. A group of reticulated giraffes and ostriches also share the Savannah.

Komodo Dragon - (1995) - A convert|3400|sqft|m2|sing=on, indoor-outdoor exhibit housing endangered Komodo dragons and gharials. The Fort Worth Zoo is home to two male Komodo dragons, both of which are just over seven feet in length. Visitors are able to watch the dragons basking in the sun on warm days, as well as see them in an indoor enclosure when temperatures start to dip. Along with these, there also are Malaysian painted river turtles in a convert|1200|sqft|m2|sing=on outdoor pool area that tapers onto a sandy beach.

Meerkat Mounds - (1997) - The Fort Worth Zoo's Meerkat Mounds exhibit, features an entire meerkat colony. Visitors to Meerkat Mounds are able to observe the different roles each meerkat performs as it goes about its daily routine.

The Meerkat Mounds exhibit simulates Africa's dry, rocky environment. Several vantage points are available for guests wanting to observe these very social animals, including a Plexiglas wall encompassing the exhibit that allows maximum viewing for visitors; a bubble window carved into one of the outer walls to provide an even closer look at the meerkats; and a boardwalk perch that gives guests a bird's-eye view.

Thundering Plains - (1999) - Features bison, pronghorn, and Mexican gray wolves in an expansive convert|2|acre|m2|sing=on habitat. Visitors are encouraged to explore life on the plains at a "prairie camp" complete with refurbished turn-of-the-century wagons surrounding a campfire.

Using the Fort Worth Zoo's existing creek as a backdrop, Thundering Plains is located in a wooded area in the center of the zoo. Zoo guests can either view Thundering Plains from the Yellow Rose Express, while on their way to "Texas Wild!" or they can wander in on foot for a longer visit.

Parrot Paradise - (2004) - Parrot Paradise is a free-flight, interactive aviary featuring six species of lories and lorikeets — small, exotic, colorful parrots from New Guinea, Australia and the South Pacific. Also flying among the lorikeets are cockatiels and parakeets.

The exhibit is located on the Zoo’s upper path (between the lions and Raptor Canyon). In Parrot Paradise, Zoo visitors see hundreds of colorful birds up-close-and-personal, as the birds can fly down and perch on their arms, head and shoulders.

*The exhibit site was originally built in 1937 with funds from the city and Works Progress Administration, a federal program which created jobs during the Great Depression. “An $18,000 monkey apartment home,” Monkey Island housed 30 rhesus monkeys. In 1949, Monkey Island became a sea lion pool, and in 1970, the exhibit contained small South American mammals. In the 1980s, storks and cranes inhabited the area, and in the early 1990s, the exhibit was converted to an alligator exhibit, where American alligators lived until 2001. Up until 2004, the area has been vacant.

Herpetarium - The Fort Worth Zoo herpetarium is home to one of the largest reptile collections in the nation. John Mertens, a well-known herpetologist and former curator designed the building. Built in 1960, the design was very much ahead of its time and is still a model by which many herpetaria are designed today. Many of the species found here are rare in zoological collections. These include gharials, which are one of the largest species of crocodilian; Philippine crocodiles, which are one of the rarest species of crocodilian; and two of the rarest species of iguanids, the Jamaican iguana and Utila iguana (both believed extinct at one time). Other species rare to zoos include the Central American coral cat snake, Caiman Lizards, Central American alligator lizard and Moluccan yellow monitor.

Inside the herpetarium are other creatures including Eurasian reptiles, which is followed by an African room, an Austral-Asian room and a tropical American room that leads into an area featuring North American species. A variety of species from all around the world fill the next large room featuring amphibians.

The herpetarium at the Fort Worth Zoo has also achieved many significant breedings - one of only a few zoos that have bred bushmasters, McGregor's pit vipers, Malaysian painted terrapins and Vietnamese leaf-nosed snakes. Some rarely bred pythons that have produced offspring at Fort Worth include the diamond python, Angolan python and Timor python. There has also been much breeding success with several species of monitor lizards including the black tree monitor, green tree monitor, crocodile monitor and Moluccan yellow monitor. The sustained breeding projects for these monitor species are part of conservation efforts to maintain healthy breeding populations of Asian forest monitors.

"Texas Wild!"

Opened in 2001, "Texas Wild!" one of the most unusual exhibits in any US zoo, concentrating on the diverse and native animals inhabiting the lands in Texas. "Texas Wild!" addresses issues not typically addressed in other zoos.

Texas Hill Country (Central Texas)The lush Texas Hill Country marks the first stop on visitors’ tour through the regions of the Lone Star State. The first sites to behold include a pristine representation of the state’s waterways and a western carousel with hand-painted ponies.

Texas TownAn authentic-looking turn-of-the-century Texas Town serves as the next destination on a trip around the state. Featuring a Play Barn for the youngest visitors and a Texas Hall of Wonders full of interactive and multimedia displays.

High Plains & Prairies (the Panhandle & Northwestern Texas)A tornado-demolished house provides an area for viewing wildlife in perhaps the most quintessential section of "Texas Wild!", the High Plains & Prairies. Zoo Creek, an existing tributary of Fort Worth’s Trinity River, meanders through the animal habitats in this area. The swift foxes, black-footed ferrets, black-tailed prairie dogs and burrowing owls reside in these habitats and illustrate how animals cooperate and co-exist.

Pineywoods & Swamps (East Texas)A bridge connects guests to the swampy bayous and lush Pineywoods of East Texas, depicted in "Texas Wild!" as the Pineywoods & Swamps. River otters busy themselves in a crystal spring, alligators pass the day and American black bears come nose-to-nose with those brave enough to meet them in close quarters.

Gulf Coast (Southern Texas)Plank-lined walkways transport travelers to a bait shack worn by the salt and winds of the sea for a look at the Texas Coast. Teaming with the aquatic life and waterfowl of a delta marsh, this section looks in-depth at the fishing industry, tides and hurricanes. An aviary further down the dock houses roseate spoonbills, and white and brown pelicans, among others.

Brush Country (Southern Texas)The tour continues into the rugged Brush Country, hunting grounds for some of the state’s most fearsome predators. The more well-known species native to this part of the state include bobcats, coyotes and mountain lions. Jaguars, ocelots and coati represent species that many Texans are not familiar with. Powerful birds of prey such as the Aplomado falcon, bald eagle and Harris hawk create a further sense of awe. Mountains & Desert (West Texas)The journey through "Texas Wild!" concludes with a replicated mine shaft depicting the Mountains & Deserts of arid West Texas. Visitors travel inside the depths of the shaft for a rare look into the nightlife of bats. Dung beetles, Texas horned lizard and western diamondback rattlesnakes contribute experience.


From 1909 to October 1991, the Fort Worth Zoo was owned as well as operated by the City of Fort Worth. During the city's tenure, a long-standing tradition began of collecting money from the community to purchase animals for the Zoo. In 1939, the Zoological Society (now the Fort Worth Zoological Association) formed as a nonprofit organization to help raise additional funds to purchase even more animals.

In October 1991—with the Zoo facing decreasing support, demands to replace outdated animal housing and sharp declines in attendance—the Association assumed management of the Zoo's day-to-day operations under a contract with the City of Fort Worth. Since 1991, the Association has raised more than $70 million from private entities, foundations and corporations for Zoo improvements and new exhibits.

In 1992, the Zoo hosted a grand reopening, unveiling two new exhibits—World of Primates and Asian Falls—and numerous improvements throughout the Zoo. Within the first year, Zoo attendance soared to approximately one million visitors in a fiscal year—almost double the previous year—and has continued to rise.

Since 1992, the Zoo has opened 15 permanent exhibits and support facilities, virtually creating a new zoo. Ten years of improvements and Association management was celebrated with the addition of Texas Wild!, which houses seven distinct exhibits within the convert|8|acre|m2|sing=on complex. The Zoo is currently working with 35 endangered species in conjunction with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums's Species Survival Plans.

A recent addition to the zoo (2004) is a tropical bird enclosure that allows children and adults alike to walk in and hand feed a variety of colorful birds.

The zoo has 15 permanent exhibits which include:

1992: World of Primates, Asian Falls

1993: Raptor Canyon, Asian Rhino Ridge, Gloria Lupton Tennison Education Center, Portraits of the Wild Art Gallery

1994: Chee·tos Cheetahs

1995: Flamingo Bay, FUJIFILM Komodo Dragons, Terminix Insect City

1997: Meerkat Mounds

1999: Thundering Plains

2001: Texas Wild! - this exhibit houses seven distinct exhibits within the complex

See also

* List of zoos

External links

* [ Ft. Worth Zoo Photo Gallery]

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