Front row: Gaile Thompson, Martha Powell, Tiffany Lamb, Gail Russey, Jennifer Montoya
Not pictured: Stan Chapman, Craig Fisher, James King, Breanna Lankford, Nick Montejano, Jennifer Nichols, Doug Robison, Chris Spainer, Sherri Statler, Kyle Timmerman, Wilson Wallace, Elizabeth Wick
History of Abilene Zoo
Abilene Zoo was built in 1966 by a group of passionate individuals who had the vision to turn an open field of land in the old Fair Park (now Rose Park) into a zoo that West Texas would be proud to claim as its own.
Abilene Zoological Society (AZS), a 501(c)3, forms to support and raise funds for the city zoo. A 60-member board of directors was named for the society, with attorney David Hooper serving as its first president.
In February 1964, citizens approved by a more than 2-1 vote a $250,000 bond issue to finance a new zoo in Grover Nelson Park.
In March of 1965 construction begins for a new Zoo in Grover Nelson Park.
A membership drive kicks off in March with the first phase lasting two weeks bringing in an estimated 5000 members at costs ranging from $1 for students, $5 per individual, and $10 per family, and various other larger options up to $250 for one-year memberships.
July 3, 1966
The new Zoo designed by architect James Tittle opens in Grover Nelson Park with 156 species in the collection.
Abilene Zoo’s first Education Building opens.
Abilene Zoo accredited by the Association of Aquariums and Zoos (AZA).
The Discovery Center opens to the public.
Wetlands of the Americas opens.
Abilene Zoo acquires 24 additional acres of land for future development.
Adventure Center Complex and Creepy Crawler Center opens.
Elm Creek Backyard, Vet Clinic and Commissary opens. The 1st annual Zoobilation fundraiser was held.
Dr. Jane Goodall visits Abilene Zoo.
South American Pampas exhibit opens.
Caribbean Cove opens.
Zoo celebrates 50 years in Grover Nelson Park and opens Twiga Giraffe Terrace.
Accredited Bird Rehabilitation Center and Animal Hospital opens.
Journey to Madagascar opens featuring lemurs, fossa, and an assortment of birds, reptiles and inverts.
Tittle Lake is named in honor of Zoo architect, James Tittle. The Zoo did a land swap with Parks & Rec and acquired an additional 19 acres including the 3rd lake.