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FORT WORTH, TEXAS – The Fort Worth 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.

“There were many key players involved in this building project, notably The Projects Group, Dunaway, 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.”

There were many key players involved in this building project, notably The Projects Group, Dunaway, and The Whiting-Turner Contracting Company.

Michael Fouraker, Fort Worth Zoo – Executive Director

Since 2016, Dunaway’s PLA, structural, civil, and survey teams have worked together on Elephant Springs, a renovated habitat that has nearly tripled the amount of exhibit space for seven Asian elephants and a male greater one-horned rhino. Inside Elephant Springs, the three-generation herd roams among multiple yards and pools as part of a 3-acre renovation to the elephant exhibit that includes a new 400,000-gallon pool in which the animals can fully submerge and swim. Dunaway provided designs for several timber-framed viewing structures, boardwalks, and piers to best balance theming, functionality, and structural integrity. Dunaway’s team also designed a 10,000-square-foot addition to the existing concrete elephant barn and over 2,500 linear feet of animal barrier fencing.

What is the benefit of this added space? It not only allows for more room for the elephants to roam but it also provides zoo guests the opportunity to get up close and personal with the Asian elephant herd. “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.”

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. The Dunaway team completed the design at the end of last year, and construction is currently underway, with a plan to open to the public in 2023.

About the Fort Worth Zoo

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.