Born in San Antonio, Ramona Bass was raised between the Alamo city and her family’s ranch in South Texas. Growing up on her family’s ranch gave Ramona a love and appreciation for animals and nature, as well as allowed her to learn, what she describes as “the importance of responsible hands-on stewardship of the land and its native wildlife.” After marrying her husband Lee thirty-nine years ago, Ramona moved north to Cowtown and grew her family to include her three children. Almost as soon as she arrived, she began to make her mark here in Fort Worth.
When Ramona describes her first visit to the Fort Worth Zoo she stated, “In 1983, I was newly engaged and Lee and I went to the Fort Worth Zoo. I was heartbroken when I saw the state of the outdated and cramped enclosures with concrete floors and the lovely animals caged inside. I knew at that moment I had to do something about it and the Fort Worth Zoo has since become my life’s work.”
Under Ramona’s leadership, privatizing the Fort Worth Zoo became the initial challenge but also proved to be the catalyst to achieving the desired results. Ramona describes, “Along with a group of native Fort Worthians, we led the effort to privatize the Zoo, which inspired a renaissance of the Zoo throughout the last thirty years. With the help of so many — a hardworking Board, extraordinary Zoo staff and keepers, the most amazing and big-hearted donors, The City of Fort Worth and the millions that come here — we have opened 18 permanent habitats and support facilities, welcomed 30 million visitors into the park and raised $300 million and counting.”
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