Big changes are coming to the Fort Worth Zoo and things are getting wilder. In 2016, the Fort Worth Zoo announced A Wilder Vision, a $130-million capital campaign that will include new habitat space, renovated habitats, special events space, multiple dining areas, restrooms and most importantly, new ways to observe, interact with and learn about animals. A Wilder Vision will also allow the Zoo to guarantee for future generations the survival of many endangered species.
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After witnessing the poaching problem and plight of several species in the wild, while also experiencing breeding and conservation successes here at home, Zoo officials began identifying the Zoo’s needs over the next 20 years and beyond. Planning for A Wilder Vision began in 2011 and developments are now underway. Divided into four stages – African Savanna, Elephant Springs, Predators of Asia & Africa and Forests & Jungles – the plan encompasses not only a mission for conserving the animal kingdom but also for educating and motivating future leaders.
The African Savanna opened to the public in the spring of 2018 and imitates the natural ecosystem of east Africa, where diverse species roam freely together. “We are very excited to bring multiple species together to mimic life in the wild,” said Zoo Executive Director Michael Fouraker. “Although most of these species already call the Zoo home, guests will be able to come face to face with these animals and engage in ways that they’ve never been able to before.” Two main features Zoo officials are excited to share with Zoo guests are the African Savanna’s giraffe feeding experience and underwater hippo viewing.
Elephant Springs opened to the public in the spring of 2021. Almost tripling its original size, this updated habitat serves as the home to our Asian elephant herd, which includes a three-generation family. The Zoo welcomed the newest members of the herd, Brazos, in the fall of 2021, and Travis, in the Spring of 2023. The addition of multiple, expanded yards and varied habitats helped to enhance the Zoo’s successful breeding program. These improvements allow the herd numerous enrichment opportunities with multiple pools and yards. The Fort Worth Zoo intends to remain at the forefront of elephant conservation and management. Elephant Springs allows the Zoo to further this leadership role and guarantee the survival of these magnificent creatures for generations to come. The unique space has received a prestigious, international Thea award for Outstanding Achievement from the Themed Entertainment Association.
Other areas will be completed over the next three years and will change the way visitors explore the Zoo and interact with the animals. Reimagined and modernized habitats will change the physical landscape of the Zoo, allowing guests to wind through shaded trails during their visit. The Zoo will also become home to new species, like wild dogs, African leopards, clouded leopards and okapi, which the Zoo hopes will help continue to strengthen the bond between humans and animals.
Predators of Asia & Africa is projected to open in the Summer of 2023.
Forests & Jungles is projected to open in the Spring of 2025.
A cornerstone of the Fort Worth Zoo’s mission is conservation. The Zoo is proud to coordinate or support conservation projects in more than 30 countries around the world in addition to the work done here in Fort Worth. Both at home and abroad, the Zoo dedicates staff time, resources and financial support toward education, conservation and animal care. A Wilder Vision will provide an opportunity to continue the Zoo’s extensive conservation work locally and globally. With the completion of the expanded and renovated habitat space, the Zoo will be able to continue its breeding programs and conservation leadership in state-of-the-art facilities, which is an absolute necessity in order to keep these animals alive for future generations.
Status in the Wild
- Greater one-horned rhino status: vulnerable
- Black rhino status: critically endangered
- With less than 2,000 southern black rhinos left in the wild, black rhinos are one of the most endangered species on the planet. These rhinos and other rhino species are being poached at the rate of four per day. If this trend continues, the entire rhino species could possibly become extinct in the wild in as few as 25 to 30 years.
- Status: endangered
- An elephant is poached at the alarming rate of one every 15 minutes. These numbers mean that elephants in the wild could possibly become extinct in the next 20 to 25 years. In addition to poaching, Asian elephants also suffer due to habitat loss because of agriculture and deforestation.
- Status: vulnerable
- A 2015 study showed that the wild population of African lions has dwindled 42 percent over the last two decades. Even more alarming, the West African subpopulation is classified as critically endangered with a staggering estimated population of 404 remaining.
- Status: endangered
- Okapi populations have declined by more than 50 percent since 1995 and are expected to continue to decrease. Okapi are threatened because of the presence of illegal armed groups around key protected areas and unfortunately in some cases, these groups prevent conservation action, surveys and monitoring of this species.
- Status: critically endangered
- This critically endangered species has declined more than 80 percent over the past several decades due to loss of habitat because of logging and deforestation. Although steps have been taken to protect the forests, most orangutan populations live outside of the current protected areas.