Frank Buck Zoo

1000 West California Street
Gainesville, TX 76240



To strengthen the connection to the natural world by entertaining,educating and empowering the community.


The Frank Buck Zoo has a long and colorful history. Located right in the heart of Gainesville, Texas, the Frank Buck Zoo has been serving the children, schools and citizens of North Central Texas and Southern Oklahoma for over 50 years.

The Zoo was born from the proud, rich heritage of the Gainesville Community Circus. The “only show of its kind in the world” was founded by A. Morton Smith and opened in 1930 at the Cooke County Fair in Gainesville. This amusement enterprise delighted enthusiastic audiences in Texas and Oklahoma for over 28 years. Former circus ringmaster, entrepreneur and local philanthropist F.E. (Frankie) Schmitz helped locate the animals from Fair Park to its current location on the west bank of Elm Creek in 1962. Frankie Schmitz’s determined efforts to keep the circus tradition alive and his love of animals helped make the Zoo what it is today. After a devastating fire destroyed most of its equipment in 1954, the circus closed and the animals stayed in their permanent home at the Zoo.

The Zoo is named after the father and pioneer of modern era zoos, Frank Buck. Frank Buck was born in Gainesville in 1884. He made his first expedition to South America in 1911. From this date, he crossed the Pacific Ocean forty-five times and traveled the globe twelve times collecting animals for zoo collections around the world. From these expeditions, he earned the nickname Frank “Bring’em Back Alive” Buck. Frank Buck also acted as honorary ringmaster for the Gainesville Community Circus on return trips to Gainesville. Because of his commitment to the community of Gainesville, the Zoo was named in his honor in 1954.

The Frank Buck Zoo has updated its image, upgraded existing elements and created the most exciting new exhibit to the Zoo, the African Savannah. The Frank Buck Zoo is now the home to over 130 animals from four continents of the world! The Frank Buck Zoo is even more dedicated to delivering an educational, quality, family-oriented recreation and cultural facility that is a safe, enjoyable and exciting place for all to be entertained. The Zoo staff pride themselves on making your visit a memorable one. Our up-close exhibits help visitors get a better view of the animals and our small size provides the perfect visit for guests of all ages. In March of 2008 the Frank Buck Zoo became home to the World's Only Frank Buck Exhibit when Frank's daughter Barbara Buck befriended the zoo staff and 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, & 1950's.

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