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Farewell To A Founder

Jim Jackson, 63, who, with his partner Krystyna Jurzykowski, purchased Fossil Rim in 1987, passed away on Saturday, March 13, 2010. They were the force that transformed Fossil Rim from a private wildlife ranch into the internationally known wildlife conservation center that it is today. He remained a champion of Fossil Rim to the end, as the photo taken in Feb 2010 in Bocas, Panama shows. Jim had lived in Bocas since 2004, tending to another of their joint ventures in association with the townsfolk of Bocas, to preserve coastal tropical rain forest through the development of small sustainable local indigenous micro-enterprises such as cacao, bamboo, tropical fruits and a variety of products.

Jim was an outside-the-box person. He was a founding member of the International Rhino Foundation (IRF) and retired from its board 2 years ago. He was instrumental in many of the species conservation and species recovery programs that Fossil Rim has been and/or is still involved in. He was a catalyzing role player and advocate for the founding of the Conservation Breeding Specialist Group (CBSG) of the Species Survival Commission of the IUCN-World Conservation Union, and served on its early board of directors.

Ode to Jim Jackson
by Malcom Henderson (neighbor: Tierra Oscura, Bocas, Panama)

Jim you came upon us: a bolt of brilliant light
Through example, you opened wide our sight
That we, a better life can now create,
Regardless of the wounds that are our fate.

Your courage in the face of pain;
Your generosity with naught to gain;
Your humor sprung with deadpan face;
Your friendship to all ----of every race.
These wondrous blessings you bestowed
We will increase by many a fold,
To be the memorial to the one who gave
His heart and soul, this place to save. 

The people of Bocas, Panama, have begun a process through their Mayor to rename their Farmer’s Market as “Jim’s Market” in honor of what he accomplished and gave to that community. In their minds, Jim was to them father, brother, guide, mentor and friend. In honor of what he did for and gave to Fossil Rim, its Intensive Management Area (IMA) will be named after him. This is where many of Fossil Rim’s special breeding projects for national and international species recovery programs occur. The IMA concept was introduced by Jim.

In Krystyna’s words, which we at Fossil Rim echo and all who knew him will understand – “Jim was an outstanding person who shied away from standing out while he was alive. But now that he has been called, his name and achievements for the benefit of others and the natural world around us stand much larger than he would have ever acknowledged”.

For those wishing to honor Jim, Fossil Rim has established a fund in his memory. You may mail a check made out to the Jim Jackson FRWC Memorial Fund to Fossil Rim Wildlife Center, 2155 County Road 2008, Glen Rose, Texas, 76043. The fund will be used to support research and breeding projects for species recovery programs in the Jim Jackson Intensive Management Area of Fossil Rim.

Fossil Rim Mourns the Passing of Respected Research Coordinator

Roy McClements, PhD, 32, Fossil Rim’s Research Coordinator, died on Monday, March 15th, 2010. Roy and Holly Haefele, DVM, Fossil Rim’s chief veterinarian, were married for a year and a half before his passing. To lose someone so young and promising and so recently married is a tragic loss for Holly, his parents and family, and all who knew and worked with him. He joined Fossil Rim last summer and was an instant success and asset with his easy smile, gentle nature and willingness to help.

Roy was born in Northern Ireland but was brought up ‘just outside’ Sydney, Australia. He attended the University of Sydney where he received his undergraduate and graduate degrees from the Faculty of Veterinary Science. He first visited the United States in 2001 to undertake a 3-month internship in the nutrition department at the Brookfield Zoo in Chicago. The internship was his first introduction to the world of exotic species, and when his 3-month stay turned into 5, his future career in research of exotic species was established. In early 2004, he was invited to the Fort Worth Zoo and this led to his acquaintance with the Attwater’s Prairie Chicken (APC) recovery program and his ensuing association with Fossil Rim.

In an interview last year Roy stated that “Fossil Rim is a great venue to have a huge impact in one’s lifetime”. We deeply regret that this anticipation was cut so short. During his all-too-brief tenure with Fossil Rim, Roy initiated numerous new research projects and brought superior inter-disciplinary coordination to many others. These projects focused on animals and herd management, land management and habitat restoration on Fossil Rim’s acreage, development of an APC database system, and, of course, animal nutrition. He was also instrumental in acquiring a grant from Texas Parks & Wildlife for the reconstruction and upgrading of Fossil Rim’s Children’s Animal Center. Site work on this project has commenced, sadly in Roy’s absence, and a memorial tree will be planted at the site in his honor.

A memorial function for Roy was generously hosted by the Dallas World Aquarium amid the diversity of animal and plant life that he loved. His parents, Frank and Pauline, and sisters Clare and Anne all from Australia were present, along with other family and friends from Australia and the USA.

For those wishing to honor Roy a fund in his memory has been established by Fossil Rim. You may mail a check made out to the Roy McClements FRWC Memorial Fund to, Fossil Rim Wildlife Center, 2155 County Road 2008, Glen Rose, Texas, 76043. The fund will be used to support conservation research at Fossil Rim.