Zoo’s Elephant Springs honored with Themed Entertainment Award
Published on April 29, 2022
The Fort Worth Zoo's newest habitat, Elephant Springs, has received a coveted Thea Award for Outstanding Achievement from the Themed Entertainment Association.
Elephant Springs is one of 13 international honorees. Among the Outstanding Achievement award recipients, the Fort Worth Zoo is the only zoo, the only institution in Texas and one of only six facilities in the United States to be recognized.
“There were many key players involved in this building project, notably The Projects Group, Dunaway Associates and The Whiting-Turner Contracting Co.” said Zoo Executive Director Michael Fouraker. “But none of this would have been possible without the driving force behind all of the Zoo's advancements – our fearless leader, Ramona Bass. Her passion, commitment and vision are the reasons for the 30-year renaissance of the Fort Worth Zoo. The Zoo remains a top-ranked institution for both humans and animals alike. The mission of the Fort Worth Zoo is to strengthen the bond between humans and animals, and Ramona has dedicated her life to this cause.”
In Elephant Springs, the three-generation herd roams among multiple yards and pools (including those out of view) and a 400,000-gallon river in which the animals can fully submerge and swim.
There are also features of Elephant Springs that visitors don't see, which also elevate the level of care. A climate-controlled environment includes exhaust fans constantly in motion, keeping the air continuously circulating throughout and heating when necessary. The barn is equipped with indoor and outdoor training spaces that give keepers the ability for close-up views and, in some cases, hands-on examinations of the animals. The sand floors provide added comfort for the herd and create an ideal nursery space for 6-month-old calf Brazos. When weather permits, the multiple neighboring yards are accessible should the animals choose to be outdoors overnight.
“We knew we were creating something special with Elephant Springs – both for our beloved herd and our guests,” Bass said. “We're incredibly proud to be recognized for creating a space that offers a highly immersive guest experience, but more importantly provides a natural, lush and enriching environment for this amazing and critically endangered species.”
Since establishing its elephant breeding program in 1986, the Fort Worth Zoo has become an international leader in elephant conservation. Fouraker served as founding president of the International Elephant Foundation and has served on the organization's board of directors since its inception. Last year, with the opening of Elephant Springs, the $32 million, state-of-the-art habitat further solidifies the Zoo’s commitment to Asian elephant conservation and management here at home and abroad.
Elephant Springs is phase two of A Wilder Vision, the four-phase, $130 million capital campaign and building project that adds new species, spectacular natural habitats, merchandise locations, restrooms and, most importantly, new ways for visitors to observe, interact with and learn about these incredible animals that share the world with us.
The next phase of A Wilder Vision to open will be Hunters of Africa & Asian Predators, which will completely redesign portions of the Zoo, allowing for expanded habitats for lions, tigers, hyenas, African wild dogs, clouded leopards, cheetahs and several exotic bird species. Hunters of Africa & Asian Predators will open in 2023. Phase four, Forest and Jungles, will then begin construction immediately.
Photo: In Elephant Springs, the herd roams among multiple yards and pools and a 400,000-gallon river.
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