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SOS Rhino : In the News : Archived News : November 1999 : Basses Wild!

Basses Wild!

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.





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