Fort Worth Zoo marks milestone

A male western lowland gorilla was born Dec. 5, 2015, at the Fort Worth Zoo in Texas. This is the first gorilla ever to be born at the Zoo, which is the only zoo in the nation to house representatives of all four great ape species - gorillas, orangutans, chimpanzees and bonobos. The yet-to-be-named ape is staying close to his mother as he gets acclimated to his surroundings in the Zoo's World of Primates exhibit. He will be viewable in indoor or outdoor exhibits at various times during the day, which will be dictated by weather conditions and his activity level. Jeremy Enlow/Fort Worth Zoo

The Fort Worth Zoo celebrated more than 1 million guests at the close of its fiscal year on Sept. 30, an attendance benchmark that boosted the zoo’s 25-year attendance total to 25 million visitors.

Zoo officials attribute this fiscal year’s attendance to the birth of its first western lowland gorilla, the 14,000-square-foot water park Safari Splash, good weather and the zoo’s acclaimed profile both regionally and nationally.

“Gus, our baby gorilla, continues to delight guests as he grows,” said Michael Fouraker, executive director. “Guests have enjoyed watching him reach developmental milestones throughout the year and his birth is also a major conservation success story, as it raises awareness about the critically endangered species.”

Thanks to community support and dedication to conservation, the Fort Worth Zoo has flourished since its founding in 1909 with a handful of animals from a traveling carnival to the diverse collection of nearly 7,000 animals representing more than 500 species.

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The Fort Worth Zoological Association assumed private management of the Zoo in 1991. Under management of the Fort Worth Zoological Association, the zoo has opened 16 major exhibits and raised more than $186 million for capital improvements.