By JANE WOLFE
The New York Times
November 21, 1999
Let Ed Bass sponsor over-the-top environmental projects like Biosphere
II. Lee and Ramona Bass, perhaps the most private members of a very
private family, support more down-to-earth, even down-home, projects
like parks and a zoo.
Over the last year or so, they have pledged $12 million toward
the $35 million cost of a new "Texas Wild!" feature at
the Fort Worth Zoo; the eight-acre site is set to open next October.
The emphasis, befitting the state, will be more on claw and jaw
than cuddly and cute. The South Texas habitat will include bald
eagles, quail, road runners, mountain lions, bobcats and jaguars.
The West Texas habitat will have bats, horned toads, black-footed
ferrets, tarantulas and scorpions.
In 1991, the zoo, then run by the city, was almost forced to close
for lack of money. But Mrs. Bass, the zoo co-chair since 1989, was
convinced that if run with private funds, it could thrive. Her recent
$12 million came on top of other gifts totaling $15 million.
Her love of Texas wildlife dates back to her youth and her family's
South Texas ranch. "Some of my fondest childhood memories are
the hours I spent with my grandfather working cattle and riding
horseback through the pastures," she said. Mr. Bass is currently
chairman of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission. The Basses
also support the American Zoological Association's Species Survival
Plan for the endangered black rhinoceros, breeding and raising the
animals on their South Texas ranch.
JANE WOLFE http://www.nytimes.com.