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In depth

Zoos: Frank Buck Zoo – a Potted History

Related: Clyde Peelings's Reptiland / ZDT's Amusement Park / Bowcraft Amusement Park / Blackbeard's Cave

Frank Buck Zoo is located in Gainesville in the north of Texas.

It has been delighting visitors of North Central Texas and Southern Oklahoma for over 50 years. The zoo was born out of the Gainesville Community Circus which was founded by A. Morton Smith and the animals were originally located at Fair Park by F.E. (Frankie) Schmitz, who was a former circus ringmaster and local philanthropist, and taken to the zoo’s current site in 1962 on the west bank of Elm Creek where the set up was one which was more predominantly aimed at keeping up the traditions of circus entertainment.

However, a fire destroyed most of the equipment in 1954 which forced the circus to close down but the animals were spared and were then able to stay in their permanent home at the zoo.

The zoo took its name from one of the modern day pioneers of zoos, Frank Buck, who was born and bred in Gainesville in the latter part of the 19th century.

In 1911, he began a pilgrimage to travel to far lands in his pursuit of collecting animals for zoos all around the world with a trip to South America. Altogether, he went around the world 12 times and crossed the Pacific Ocean 45 times and the zoo was named in his honour in 1954.

The zoo today is home to over 130 animals from 4 continents of the world. These include ostriches, various species of bear, kangaroos, camels, zebra, giraffe and much more besides.

The zoo continually strives to keep its image updated and its latest introduction is its African Savannah exhibit.

Because of its smaller design and its ‘up close’ exhibits which allow visitors to get a better view of the animals, it is extremely popular with guests of all ages.

The zoo received a special visit in 2008 when Frank Buck’s daughter, Barbara, came along to donate items which had belonged to her father. These included a unique collection of camp tools which Frank had used to capture animals and plenty of media memorabilia which dates back to the 1930s, 40s and 50s.

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