As we count down to the New Year, let’s look back on the Zoo’s Top 10 moments of 2022.
Kicking it off with #10: We think this one goes without saying – Brazos’ first time playing with bubbles is one of our favorite moments of the year. Not only did it bring smiles to our faces (and still does), but it was an enriching activity for the little elephant. He ran through the bubbles, tasted them and even figured out how to pop single bubbles with his trunk. Watch the fun here.
A veterinary success story comes in at #9 – the creation and application of a prosthetic beak for the Zoo’s harpy eagle (with help from the University of South Florida)! Learn more about the procedure here.
#8 Two African penguin chicks, Shirley and Maple, joined the flock! The African penguin is an endangered species and has a declining population in the wild – less than 10 percent of the original African penguin population remains.
Angel’s tooth removal procedure comes in at #7. The Zoo wouldn’t be the same without our outstanding veterinary staff. Much of their work is done behind the scenes, so we’ll take any chance we can get to show them off. This particular procedure had never been performed at the Zoo before, and it took a team of more than 50 people – elephant staff, veterinary staff, and more – to successfully bring Angel back to comfort. Listen in here.
#6 The 99th Zoo-hatched Louisiana pine snake was released into the wild! The Zoo is one of only four breeding centers for this species – one of the most endangered snake species in North America with more than 90% of its historic habitat destroyed. Each year, the Zoo’s ectotherms team releases these snakes into their native range. Stay tuned in the spring for the next release.
#5 Good things come in threes! The giraffe herd had three additions this year. Pele was born in June, Sherlock in October and Watson in November. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and Giraffe Conservation Foundation estimate that the wild giraffe population has decreased by 30 percent over the last 20 years, facing a “silent extinction.” The Zoo’s three giraffe calves are the result of a cooperative breeding program that maintains a healthy, genetically diverse population to serve as a hedge against extinction.
#4 A record number of Houston toad eggs and tadpoles were released into the wild this year, totaling a whopping 434,765 eggs and 23,760 tadpoles. The Fort Worth Zoo is one of only four facilities that breeds Houston toads under managed care.
#3 The first-ever greater flamingo hatchings in Zoo history! That’s right, the Zoo hit a milestone when three greater flamingo chicks hatched, making the Zoo one of very few institutions that has successfully bred all four species of flamingos housed in North American zoos.
#2 Celebrating the Zoo’s 30th anniversary since reopening under the leadership of the Fort Worth Zoological Association through a public-private partnership with the City of Fort Worth. We celebrated with a 30th anniversary festival and reminisced on major milestones and events that transformed our Zoo into a world-class institution and leader in conservation, animal care and education. Learn more and watch our three-part docuseries celebrating the last three decades here.
#1 We get to talk about Bruno! The Zoo’s second-ever western lowland gorilla birth is certainly something to be proud of this year. Little Bruno was born on Nov. 6 to parents Gracie and Elmo and is growing bigger every day. The western lowland gorilla is critically endangered, so Bruno represents an important milestone for the Zoo and his species.