Tucked away in the rustic hills of Somervell County, you will discover giraffes, wildebeest, zebras and other endangered animals that freely roam through live oak thickets.

Fossil Rim Wildlife Center, an 1800 acre ranch located in Glen Rose, Texas, is a family destination right in our own backyard. Visitors drive through the nine and a half mile road to enjoy feeding magnificent creatures through their car windows and sunroofs.

My husband and I took our Little Pawners, Maryssa and Makenna Mahaney on a drive to check it out after getting a request for a Vow Renewal.

If those twins had a chance at running a zoo- they would jump on it! Makenna is enthralled with dog photos on her Instagram page while Maryssa wants a “duck family.”

The thing is, our own Texas Twins Events Mascot, Foxy Wortham is all the pet this “busier than a one legged man in a butt kicking contest” can handle.

Adding another pet to my sister Cindy’s crowded household isn’t going to happen although the twins beg on a daily basis my sister has deemed the Daniel Diggs “A Pet Free Zone.”

Fossil Rim visitors may not realize that their admission fee is not only an opportunity to see exotic animals, they are also helping fulfill a strategic mission by saving endangered species. The mission of Fossil Rim is “promoting the preservation and procreation of threatened/endangered species, environmental awareness, and enjoying a recreational and educational experience for people of all ages.”

Tom Mantzel purchased Waterfall Ranch, an exotic game ranch in 1973 and renamed it Fossil Rim Wildlife Ranch while continuing to add exotic hoofstock that he found there. Mantzel had a concern over the loss of wild habitat and species extinction that compelled him to experiment in captive feeding at Fossil Rim. In 1982, he brought Grevy’s zebra to Fossil Rim in his initial commitment to propogate an endangered species. After success with the zebra, he worked with other endangered animals that included the African addax, the African scimitar- horned oryx and cheetahs, one of Fossil Rims greatest propagation success stories with over 150 cheetahs born at Fossil Rim.

The ranch was open to the public in 1984 to help fund the growing propagation programs and continues to flourish under new owners and philanthropists, Jim Jackson and Christine Jurzykowski.

Today, Fossil Rim is a non profit organization and is one of six institutions dedicated to advancing endangered species conservation in a collaborative group known as C2S2 or, Conservation Centers for Species Survival. The center also participates in a worldwide network of wildlife conservation organizations working to restore the delicate balance between people, animals and the environment.

May through August is chick rearing season and the Behind the Scenes Tour goes into the hallway of Prairie Grouse Chick Rearing Facility where the tour group can peek into windows and see baby chicks being cared for by the staff.

I believe in educating all of our children about wildlife, Art and history. My son, Robert Hafele not only attended Zoo School in Fort Worth but, also attended Museum School.

It is my belief that all children understand the delicate balance of life and nature by visiting museums and nature centers. Although my family LOVES theme parks, it is by exposing children to the arts and natural places to see firsthand the true magnificence of nature that they realize the fragility of endangered species.

The family wanting to renew their vows loves this park so much that they have a season pass to visit year round and enjoy the beauty of Fossil Rim.

It is well known that finding a venue that is unique and diverse to couples has always held a special place for me. Places that have special memories make the moment all the more “magical.”

As I prepare to travel to Oklahoma tomorrow to conduct my very first legal same sex union, it becomes apparent to this Texas Twin that life in Fossil Rim with the delicate balance of new births and new life is a step back in time to a simpler moment when fast cars, political unrest and simplicity can be forgotten if only for a moment while the Little Pawners ooh and awe at the beauty of nature and the magnificent giraffes stick their heads through our sunroof for a treat.

Take your children to this amazing park- you will be glad you did to find nature and solitude while supporting a worthy cause.

Wendy M Wortham
Texas Twins Events