I am proud to join the Fort Worth Zoo in the celebration of their 110th birthday this year. The zoo serves as one of the many cultural centerpieces of our North Texas community, and calls our great city home. Over its century of operation, the zoo has welcomed millions of visitors and broadened the educational horizons for so many of our children and grandchildren.
Our zoo opened in 1909 very humbly with only a few animals on display. In the decades that followed, the zoo continued to grow due to generous donations and increased profits. In fact, the zoo credits coin donations for partially funding the purchase of two American Bison and a Zebra in its very early years!
In 1991, our zoo fell on hard times and the city was no longer able to adequately provide for its operation. I was Mayor at the time, and I knew that we simply could not close down this attraction that was so important to our community. Faced with the zoo’s looming hardship, we did what Texans do. Under the initial leadership of Mayor Bob Bolen, the Fort Worth Community came together, and in 1992, the Fort Worth Zoological Association took over the facility that we all know and love today. The zoo now has over 7,000 native and exotic animals and is consistently named one of the top five zoos in the nation!
Along with entertaining and educating more than a million visitors every year, the Fort Worth Zoo is also dedicated to global conservation efforts. In recent years, the zoo has contributed nearly $10 million towards conservation projects in over 30 countries. Closer to home, the zoo recently celebrated the hatching of their 600th Texas horned lizard—in an effort to save the native species from extinction. Further, the zoo has partnered with organizations across the world to help protect elephants, rhinos, and even freshwater turtles. I could not be more proud of the zoo’s conservation efforts that share the Fort Worth spirit of compassion and conservation around the globe.
I am incredibly proud of what the Fort Worth Zoo has become. The zoo is a true jewel in our community, and I look forward to what I know will be another 110 years of conservation, community impact, and family memories.