Zoo Benefit Concert Saturday Night

·4 min read

Jul. 16—A benefit concert for Frank Buck Zoo is set for Saturday at 7 p.m. at the Gainesville Farmer's Market.

This event, sponsored by the Frank Buck Zoological Society, will feature Larry Joe Taylor, with Joe Forlini as the opening act and Jerry Hart & Flatland as a guest talent.

Admission is free, but people will be able to support the Frank buck Zoo through the purchasing of concert t-shirts, band merchandise, wrist bands for the bounce house and beverage sales. There will also be more information about their programs allowing people to sponsor a species and individual animal sponsorships.

Texas Daq Shack is also encouraging people to come to the event. The first 250 people to come by during the event will get a free virgin daiquiri. The Shack is located at 209 N. Commerce St. with a back patio on the east side of the Farmer's Market, next to the grass in front of the stage.

The Frank Buck Zoo, located within Leonard Park, houses 160 animals native to five different continents around the world. It originated as part of the Gainesville Community Circus, organized by A. Morton Smith and Circus President Frank E. Schmitz, and opened in 1930. It lasted for 24 years before the circus faced a major challenge.

"In 1954 a fire destroyed most of the circus's equipment," said Kleven. "The animal performers were then housed at the County Fairgrounds, where the Civic Center is located today. In 1962 the animals were moved to their current location in Leonard Park which became the Gainesville Zoo. In 1970 the Frank Buck Zoological Society voted to rename the zoo after Gainesville's native son, Frank Buck."

Frank Buck was an animal enthusiast and collector who became famous for his books, as well as the radio shows and films he acted in, directed and produced about his books.. His first book, "Bring 'Em Back Alive," became a bestseller and earned him his nickname, Frank "Bring 'Em Back Alive" Buck.

"Frank Buck was born in Gainesville in 1884," said Kleven. "He returned to Gainesville twice to act as Master of Ceremonies for Gainesville Circus."

While Buck passed away before the zoo was founded, his daughter Barbara visited the zoo in 2007.

"Frank's daughter Barbara Buck donated items that belonged to her father, resulting in a fascinating collection of camp tools used to capture animals and media memorabilia from the 1930, 1940 and 1950s," said Kleven. "Since that time, the Frank Buck Zoo has been recognized for excellence in emergency evacuation and planning, breeding, exhibit design, animal training, and the use of cutting edge technology to optimize animal welfare."

Zoological Society

The Frank Buck Zoological Society is an organization dedicated to supporting the Frank Buck Zoo through facility improvements, animal purchases, promotion and supporting a percentage of the zoo's operating expense.

The society also supports events and projects to raise money for the zoo. An ongoing fundraiser of the Zoological Society is the engraved planks along the African Savanna Boardwalk. This walkway wraps around the zoo, giving visitors a giraffe's eye view of the animals. This walkway became part of the Frank Buck Zoo experience in the spring of 2005. Along the walkway, planks are engraved with names of businesses and people.

As the years have passed, boards have deteriorated and need to be replaced. People can purchase a new plank to support the Frank Buck Zoo and have the plank be laser engraved with their name or a phrase of up to 28 characters per board.

More information about purchasing a plank and the Zoological Society can be found at frankbuckzoo.com.

Frank Buck Zoo

The zoo animal care staff are members of the Red River chapter of the American Association of Zoo Keepers. They raise funds for conservation projects, both locally and internationally, and offer guided tours at 10 a.m. on Saturdays and Sundays, weather permitting. These tours include a staff member giving visitors a closer look at the animals, including a giraffe encounter. Reservations are required one week in advance, have a maximum of 10 people and are $25 a person.

The zoo is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily with the last ticket being sold at 4:30 p.m. Ticket price for children age one through 12 years old is $5.50, adult tickets for individuals 13 to 54 years old are $7.50, and active military and seniors 55 years old and older can get tickets for $6.50.

For more information, visit www.frankbuckzoo.com.