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Fort Worth, TX 76110
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 a nationally ranked facility, housing more than 7,000 native and exotic animals.
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 non-profit organization to help raise additional funds to purchase even more animals.
In October 1991 – with the Zoo facing decreasing city support, demands to replace outdated animal housing and declines in attendance – the Association assumed management of the Zoo's day-to-day operations under a contract with the City of Fort Worth.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 $122 million from private entities, foundations and corporations for Zoo improvements and new major 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 that of the previous year – and has maintained ever since.
Since 1993, the Zoo has opened 16 major exhibits thanks to the support of individuals, corporate sponsors and foundations. These exhibits include: Raptor Canyon (1993), Asian Rhino Ridge (1993), Portraits of the Wild Art Gallery (1994), Chee•tos Cheetah (1994), Flamingo Bay (1995), FUJIFILM Komodo Dragon (1995), Terminix Insect City (1996), Penguin Island (1997), Meerkat Mounds (1997), Koala Outback (1998), Thundering Plains (1999), Texas Wild! (2001), Parrot Paradise (2004), Australian Outback and Great Barrier Reef (2005), Penguins (2008), Museum of Living Art (2010), Outdoor Learning Theater (2012) and Texas Nature Traders (2012).
Substantial improvements have been made to Zoo facilities, including handicap accessibility, improvements to restrooms, shade structures, walkways, food outlets, picnic areas, animal areas and exhibit space.
Public reaction to the Zoo's renaissance has been tremendous, making the Fort Worth Zoo one of the most popular attractions in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. The Zoo has been ranked 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 named the number one attraction in the Dallas/ Fort Worth Metroplex by Zagat Survey U.S. Family Travel Guide.