A blackbuck at the Fossil Rim Wildlife Center
|Location||Glen Rose, Texas|
|Land area||1,700 acres (6.9 km2)|
|No. of animals||1000+|
|No. of species||50|
Fossil Rim Wildlife Center is an endangered species research and conservation center near Glen Rose, Texas. The facility has over 1,000 animals from 50 species. Guided and self-guided tours of the center are the main attractions.
One of the main attractions at Fossil Rim is a 9.5 mi (15.3 km) driving tour.
Fossil Rim Wildlife Center houses approximately 1100 animals in 50 species, of which 16 are endangered
|Addra gazelle||Emu||Red deer|
|American bison||Fallow deer||Red-crowned crane|
|Arabian oryx||Giraffe||Roan antelope|
|Attwater's prairie chicken||Greater kudu||Sable antelope|
|Axis deer||Grévy's zebra||Sandhill crane|
|Blackbuck||Hartmann's mountain zebra||Scimitar oryx|
|Blesbuck||Maned wolf||White-nosed coati|
|Blue wildebeest||Mexican wolf||White rhinoceros|
|Bongo||Nine-banded armadillo||Whitetail deer|
|Cheetah (African)||Przewalski's horse|
The first mission of the Fossil Rim Wildlife Center is the conservation of species through scientific research, responsible management of natural resources, professional training and public education.
The Fossil Rim Wildlife Center is one of the five founding organisations of the Conservation Centers for Species Survival (C2S2), a consortium created to develop programs for the sustainability of endangered species. The center brings the expertise of many large-scale zoological and environmental institutions to address issues related to the conservation of endangered species through study, management and recovery plans. The central office of the consortium is in the Fossil Rim Wildlife Center.
Fossil Rim Wildlife Center participated in the reproduction and rehabilitation program of the Scimitar-horned Oryx in Chad and the rest of sub-saharan Africa. The species is extinct in the wild since the 1980s (poaching, loss of habitat and political strife are some of the causes of its decline), but a worldwide breeding program helped the restoration of the species. A first herd of 25 beasts was released in Chad in April 2016 with collars giving their position via satellite to follow them in their habitat. The Fossil Rim helped in the evaluation of the collar on their own herd inside the park to make sure the animals would not be incapacitated by them.
The center participates in a program to rehabilitate the Attwater's prairie chicken, a small grouse native of the coastal plains of Louisiana and Texas, now one of the most endangered bird species in America. Fossil Rim Wildlife Center and five other zoos initiated a breeding program for the species in 1992. Between 170 and 175 birds are released in the wild every year, of which half were bred in the center. Even if the species has not grown in the wild, the project prevented complete extinction.
The center has one of the most successful cheetah breeding programs in the world, with more than 135 feline bred and raised there.
The center was first an exotic herding ranch acquired by a Texan businessman from the oil industry named Tom Mantzel. He bought the ranch in 1973 and renamed it Fossil Rim Wildlife Ranch. The project was at first a weekend retreat for Mantzel, but it soon became a full-time occupation. Concerned by the extinction of species, Mantzel started experimenting with breeding endangered species in 1982 with Grévy's zebras. Fossil Rim was the first ranch to participate in the Species Survival Plan, an initiative partnered with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), and their success with zebras prompted the association to continue its work with Fossil Rim.
Mantzel decided to open the zoo to the public in 1984; with the oil crash, he was in dire need of funding to continue his breeding program. With a small team, he built a road along the 1,400 acres of land and opened a snack bar and a souvenir shop. He also brought a few more animals to bring in the public, Grant's zebras, ostriches, and reticulated giraffes.
A volunteer program was developed to help with the visits, and the park started his education mission. In 1985, more endangered species were brought to the ranch, African scimitar-horned oryx. At that time the park got permission from the U.S. government to import cheetah for a breeding program, one of the most successful projects of the center. But even with the success, the maintenance costs were still too high, and in 1987 Mantzel start looking for partners.
Jim Jackson and Christine Jurzykowski were looking for a venture to engage themselve in conservation, planning to open a marine park in Martinnique. Learning that they were seeking information from the Fossil Rim Ranch, Mantzel approached the couple to ask them if they would be interested in partnering with him to save the park, giving operational funds for the park. But seeing foreclosure as imminent, they decided to buy the ranch, which became the Fossil Rim Wildlife Center on May 7, 1987.