The Fort Worth Zoo encouraged residents to vote for it to win the title of USA Today’s No. 1 Best Zoo.
The zoo was nominated as the top zoo in the North American region for the second time, making it into the Best Zoo and Best Zoo Exhibit (Museum of Living Art) categories. The deadline to vote was on May 24.
“The Fort Worth Zoo has been nominated for USA Today’s ’10 Best Zoos’ in North America. The zoo needs your help voting to help secure its position in the final list and being voted No. 1 again,” Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price wrote.
Before the deadline, votes would be submitted once a day, every day from each device compatible with the voting site, which includes desktops, cellphones, laptops and tablets. To promote the opportunity, the zoo encouraged the public to share related links on their social media to spread the word.
The family attraction serves as the oldest zoo site in the state of Texas. It was established in 1909 with just one lion, two bear cubs, an alligator, a coyote, a peacock and rabbits. Today, it houses over 7,000 animals. The first decade of its existence contributed to various animal species, including a pair of panthers, beavers, cinnamon bears, monkeys and prairie dogs. With two American bison and a zebra to join in the 1920s.
The zoo has grown to become home to more than 7,000 native and exotic animals. Aside from its previous USA Today honor, the zoo has been ranked the No. 5 zoo in the nation by USA Travel Guide, the No. 1 attraction in the DFW Metroplex by Zagat survey and a top 10 zoo or aquarium by FamilyFun magazine.
The City of Fort Worth was responsible for overseeing the zoo’s operations from 1909 to 1991. In 1939, the Zoological Society helped raise funds to add more animals to the land. Following its animal expansion, the zoo faced a lack of support from the city in 1991, leaving it in the hands of the nonprofit organization, which has raised over $186 million from both private businesses for maintenance costs. The change led to two new habitats, World of Primates and Asian Falls, which attracted over a million attendees, the most the attraction had ever seen.
Over the course of the last 30 years, the zoo has undergone large modifications, such as the addition of 16 permanent habitats and facilities. The innovation was celebrated with Texas Wild! In 2001, which consisted of seven habitats in an eight-acre complex. Some of the features that have opened in recent years under the management of the association include Safari Splash in 2015, Africa Savanna, in 2018 and Toyota Children’s Petting Ranch and Corral, among many others. Other significant improvements reported handicap accessibility, restroom remodeling, additional walkways, food outlets and picnic areas, among other spaces.