June 21, 2021

Executive Director Snodgrass Announces Retirement

(Glen Rose, TX) – After 37 years at Fossil Rim Wildlife Center (FRWC) in Glen Rose, Texas, Mr. Kelley Snodgrass will retire at the end of 2021 from his role as Executive Director.

Fossil Rim Executive Director Kelley Snodgrass (right) has announced his retirement at the end of 2021 after 37 years of service to the wildlife center. He is shown with original owner Tom Mantzel, who opened Fossil Rim to the public in 1984, and Krystyna Jurzykowski, who became the second owner in 1987.

Snodgrass brought extensive experience to the position and a deep understanding of the conservation center, as he has worked at FRWC since 1984. During this time, he served as Ranch Manager, Animal Care Coordinator, Internship Coordinator, Animal Care Director, Director of Animal Care and Natural Resources, COO, Interim Executive Director, and Executive Director.

Kelley Snodgrass (middle) is shown in 1988 with Bruce Williams (left), former director of conservation, and Animal Care Specialist Arnulfo Muro. Snodgrass and Muro are Fossil Rim’s only two staff members to have worked at the facility since it opened in 1984.

“Working with Kelley has been amazing. He has been inspirational both in his knowledge and in his passion. He is also a truly good person. He will be missed, but we are thankful for his stewardship of this organization. He has brought FRWC to a completely better place and words can’t properly explain our gratitude,” said Charles Lipscomb, FRWC Board Chair.

During his time at FRWC, Snodgrass has worked collaboratively with numerous conservation organizations (private and public) and programs, including the Conservation Centers for Species Survival (C2S2), Source Population Alliance (SPA), Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), Zoological Association of America (ZAA), various Species Survival Plans (SSPs), and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. He strongly believes in the importance of creating diverse partnerships and alliances to address wildlife sustainability at the scope and scale needed.

Kelley Snodgrass is shown with Fossil Rim Director of Animal Care Adam Eyres (left) and Pat Condy, former executive director, at Fossil Rim’s Dream Day event in 2009. Snodgrass and Eyres have worked together for 32 years.

“Early in what became a wonderful and wonderfully fulfilling career – a passion, I discovered the importance of working for and toward the greater good. It has been an honor and privilege to have the opportunity to serve this very special and beautiful place for the mission and with so many, past and present, at FRWC and those beyond the fences,” said Snodgrass.

“For the land and conservation programs, the shared opportunities and moments with many – it has been an adventure with purpose. I am proud that there are 1,800 acres of protected green space (hoping more will be added and protected through a land conservation fund), proud of the many lives affected by their time at/with/through FRWC (students, guests, researchers, interns, volunteers, staff, supporters, donors, board members), and proud of the sustained and deepening effort to make sure some of the most threatened and endangered species will continue to exist.”

Jason Ahistus (2008-21), Mary Jo Stearns (1989-2017), and Kelley Snodgrass (1985-2008) are the three primary figures in the history of Fossil Rim’s cheetah program. They are pictured with an award entitled “ZAA Long-Term Commitment and Significant Propagation 2019” for efforts regarding cheetahs.

Snodgrass has worked at FRWC since before it opened to the public, and he has seen FRWC grow and develop into the world-class conservation breeding center it is today. He maintains a strong commitment to the five pillars of the FRWC Mission: conservation of species in peril, conducting scientific research, training of professionals, responsible management/stewardship of natural resources, and public education.

FRWC has received many recognitions and awards for its conservation work and diligently strives to sustain select populations of wildlife. It is FRWC’s objective to sustainably manage wildlife as naturally as possible – demographically, genetically, socially, and environmentally – as a part of, and in support of, a greater metapopulation strategy to serve as a hedge against extinction and in support of biodiversity. FRWC will continue to seek ways to engage and inspire guests and our community to action so we may all serve as better stewards of nature, upon which we all depend.

Snodgrass added, “For my family and me, FRWC will forever be with us. And although thoughts will never be far away from FRWC and what more we can do to conserve nature, I am looking forward to the next adventures, sharing more time with my recently retired wife, family, and of course, the granddaughters.”

Fossil Rim Wildlife Center is a not-for-profit 501(c)3 wildlife conservation facility that specializes in captive-breeding programs for endangered and threatened animal species. Located 55 miles southwest of the DFW Metroplex in Glen Rose (Texas), Fossil Rim funds its award-winning conservation efforts with tourism. The center manages more than 50 species of wildlife including cheetahs, rhinos, giraffes, wolves, zebras and Attwater’s prairie chickens, a species native to Texas. Fossil Rim offers a 7.2-mile scenic wildlife drive, unique Foothills Safari Camp lodging, guided tours, programs, Children’s Animal Center, Nature Store, and Overlook Café to visitors. For more information, call (254) 897-2960 or visit fossilrim.org.


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  • Congratulations Kelly!!!! Its been a long trail with cheetahs & so enjoyed working with you for all these years!!! Your the best!

  • Congratulations, Kelly. Thanks for the opportunity to intern at FRWC so many years ago. I wish you happy retirement.

  • Congratulations on a well-deserved retirement! Wishing you and Patty many enjoyable adventures to come.

  • Congratulations Kelley on your retirement! You are a blessing and we know you will be missed!❤️

  • Congratulations, Kelly! Enjoy your retirement. Your contributions to the success of Fossil Rim cannot be measured.

  • Congratulations on your upcoming retirement. You were an asset to Fossil Rim for many, many years! I know they will miss your advice, assistance, and leadership.

  • Congratulations Kelly,
    You have done a great job. I hope you enjoy your retirement. I hope to still see you at school board conventions.

  • Congratulations Kelly, on your up coming well deserved retirement. Thank you for all the years of hard work and dedication to the preservation of endangered species and for being available to educators. Happy Trails!

  • Congratulations Kelley. I will never forget my time as an Intern way back in 1993 and you taking time to give me and my fellow teachers a behind the scenes tour in 2010. Enjoy your retirement and know your commitment to wildlife conservation will live on.

  • Many Congratulations Kelly!
    You were always so helpful during my internship there and will never forget working with you doing game capture and veterinary procedures! I know you will be missed! and FR won’t be the same with out you!
    All the best to you and your family !

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