Abilene's 'Zoo Lake No. 1' renamed to honor Jimmy Tittle, architect of the water feature

Written By: Abilene Reporter-News

Date: March 7, 2022

Abilene's 'Zoo Lake No. 1' renamed to honor Jimmy Tittle, architect of the water feature cover image

Jimmy Tittle of the Tittle Luther Partnership has been honored by the renaming of a lake at Abilene Zoo to "Tittle Lake." An official ceremony will take place on March 22 at Nelson Park. Tittle was the primary architect for the original zoo project which opened in 1966. TLP merged with Parkhill in 2012 bringing a history of Abilene projects to the firm. Since then, Parkhill continues to be involved in the design, preservation, and expansion of the Abilene Zoo including the Giraffe Exhibit in 2013 and the Madagascar Exhibit in 2021.

To [friend of Jimmy Tittle Paul] Cannon, the effort was the right way to honor a man who was helped design many buildings in Abilene, such as the Abilene Regional Airport terminal and the Taylor County Courthouse, and was the go-to architect for the zoo, when it opened in 1966.

That year, the zoo moved from Fair Park in central Abilene to Nelson Park on the far east side.

"Jimmy's work has blended into this city deeply," [Pam] Tippen, [an instigator of the project,] said. "To me, this (honor) is so relevant."

It was his idea to have a lake, both for looks and as a natural air-conditioning unit for the zoo. Prevailing southerly winds in the summer, which help dissipate the distinct aromas of a zoo, would be cooled coming across the water.

"I designed the zoo, and it's one of my favorite things," Tittle said.

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Jimmy Tittle (left), Zoo Director Walt Kuenzli (middle), and President of the Abilene Zoological Society David Hooper at Members Day, a special preview day for zoo members, on July 1, 1966