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Fossil Rim selected as USA Today’s Best Safari Park

Ashley Inge
Fossil Rim Wildlife Center was selected as USA Today's 10Best Readers' Choice travel award contest winner for Best Safari Park.

Fossil Rim Wildlife Center was selected as USA Today’s 10Best Readers' Choice travel award contest winner for Best Safari Park.

The contest began in March but was paused due to COVID-19 and eventually resumed in June.

A few days before voting ended, the leaderboard showed that Fossil Rim had fallen behind “two-time defending champion” Lee G. Simmons Wildlife Safari Park located in Nebraska, which had finished first in 2019 and 2018, and second in 2017.

The staff at Fossil Rim challenged its supporters to help vote for their favorite safari park and the work paid off, with Fossil Rim coming in at No. 1 for the first time.

“In spite of all that’s been going on with COVID-19, it's nice to see people really appreciate the work that’s been going on at Fossil Rim, allowing them to have an opportunity to come out and be in their own vehicle without exposure – that was quite beneficial for us – but it also allowed people to get out of their homes so we sort of provided a service for that, but at the end of the day, we’re really appreciative of everyone that voted for us,” said Warren Lewis, chief marketing officer at Fossil Rim.

In previous years, Fossil Rim finished fifth in 2019, second in 2018 and third in 2017 in the contest.

According to Fossil Rim’s news release, the 10Best.com website averages 5 million visitors per month, which could greatly benefit Fossil Rim by bringing in more guests from around the nation.

“Our mission is conservation and education. The more exposure we get, the more opportunities we have to spread our mission,” Lewis said. “We are a nonprofit organization, unlike most of the other people in this category. We don’t have the funds that other entities have in order to promote themselves. We at Fossil Rim Wildlife Center will certainly not solve the problem singlehandedly, so we’re always excited to pull in more partners and people that share our mission for the good of the natural world.

“We are a little-bitty entity in Glen Rose, Texas, but we work on a global level, where we actually reintroduce animals, not only in Texas, but worldwide,” Lewis added. “I jokingly tell people we raise more cheetahs than anyone else in Glen Rose, Texas, and they laugh, but the reality is, we raise more cheetah cubs than anybody in North America. As you pay to come and visit, you are actually contributing to the success of the conservation work that we’re doing so every vehicle that pulls in to Fossil Rim to come and visit, I consider them a partner with us in conservation.”

USA Today’s 10Best Readers' Choice

1. Fossil Rim Wildlife Center

2. Lee G. Simmons Wildlife Safari Park (Nebraska)

3. Bearizona Wildlife Park (Arizona)

4. San Diego Zoo Safari Park (California)

5. Wildlife Safari (Oregon)

6. Safari West (California)

7. Virginia Safari Park (Virginia)

8. The Wilds (Ohio)

9. Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch (Texas)

10. Lion Country Safari (Florida)