The first facility of its kind to be accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), Fossil Rim Wildlife Center participates in a worldwide network of wildlife conservation organizations working to restore the delicate balance between people, animals and the environment. Fossil Rim’s ~1700 acres is home to around 1000 individual animals, belonging to 50 different native and exotic species. Please refer the AZA web site and learn about the many conservation efforts of accredited North American zoological institutions. You will find that all of the endangered and threatened species that Fossil Rim works with are actually part of a much larger conservation effort. Many threatened and endangered animals in AZA facilities are managed under two types of programs, Species Survival Plans and Population Management Plans. Both were created to manage and conserve select ex situ species populations with cooperation from AZA institutions across North America.
Fossil Rim Wildlife Center exists to aid in the conservation of animal species under the threat of extinction in the wild. Fossil Rim employs three key strategies to help fulfill our conservation mission: captive breeding, research and education. Fossil Rim’s large open spaces provide the ideal situation for successful captive breeding programs of some species in peril. Many of our animals, such as our ungulates (hoofed animals), are able to live in herds and family groups identical to those found in the wild. This facilitates normal breeding behaviors and results in very successful captive breeding programs for our large ungulate species, like sable, roan and addax antelope. We have also been extremely successful in breeding Attwater’s prairie chicken, black and white rhinoceros, Grevy’s zebra, cheetah and several species of wolf. Some of the animals born at Fossil Rim have been reintroduced to the wild. Our animals also sometimes leave Fossil Rim to populate other zoos, both in North America and around the world.
More addax have been born at Fossil Rim than exist in the wild today. Sobering current estimates suggest only around 300 addax live in their native range of the Saharan Desert of northern Africa. Here at Fossil Rim addax are maintained in a large herd consisting of one dominant bull and multiple females with young offspring, and are one of the antelope species thriving in their Texan home. Several scimitar horned oryx and addax that were born at Fossil Rim were released in 2007 to Tunisia, in an effort to reestablish herds in their native range.
Read more about the endangered wildlife of the Sahara.
Participation in the Attwater’s prairie chicken Federal Recovery Plan continues to be Fossil Rim’s major contribution to the conservation of native Texas species. Since the captive breeding program was initiated in 1992, Fossil Rim has played a leadership role by developing captive breeding techniques, housing well over half of the captive population, and producing the majority of the individuals released each year to the Attwater’s Prairie Chicken National Wildlife Refuge and the Texas Prairie Reserve. Every spring males and females are paired to provide the most genetically diverse offspring possible. Once the eggs are laid and collected, the intensive artificial incubation of eggs and raising of hundreds of chicks begins. Come summer, the chicks are large enough to take a trip south to the release site, and have a chance to breed in the wild the following spring thus maintaining the population of this endangered grouse in the wild.
Read more about the Attwater’s prairie chicken recovery effort.
Fossil Rim is one of a few institutions in North America that have produced over 125 cheetah cubs. Our large enclosures provide the space and seclusion that appears to be a key element in the successful breeding of this animal in captivity.
Read more about cheetah conservation.