The Fort Worth Zoo is thrilled to announce that the Zoo’s newest habitat, Elephant Springs, has received a coveted Thea Award for Outstanding Achievement from the Themed Entertainment Association (TEA).

Elephant Springs is one of only 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.

“The Themed Entertainment Association congratulates the new TEA Thea Awards recipients, representing excellence, innovation and leadership in the creation of compelling places and experiences,” said TEA International Board President Chuck Fawcett.

“There were many key players involved in this building project, notably The Projects Group, Dunaway Associates and The Whiting-Turner Contracting Company,” 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 you don’t see, those behind the scenes, that 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. Elephant Springs allows the Zoo to expand its herd and share what we have learned to benefit the species worldwide.

“We knew we were creating something special with Elephant Springs – both for our beloved herd and our guests,” said Ramona Bass. “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 (IEF) and has served on the organization’s board of directors since its inception. Last year, with the opening of Elephant Springs, this $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 nationally acclaimed Fort Worth Zoo has been voted a top zoo in North America by USA Today, one of the “World’s Greatest” by BloombergTV, the Best Zoo in Texas by Yahoo Travel, the No. 5 zoo in the nation by USA Travel Guide, the No. 1 family attraction in the DFW Metroplex by Zagat survey and a Top 10 Zoo or Aquarium by FamilyFun magazine. Home to nearly 7,000 animals, the Zoo is in the third of a four-phase master plan. The first phase, African Savanna, opened in 2018; the second phase, Elephant Springs, opened in April 2021. The third, African Hunters and Asian Predators, is currently under construction and set to open in 2023. The institution’s focus on education and conservation is second to none, enhancing the lives of more than 1 million visitors a year and the animals that live there.    

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