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Gorillas of the African Forest


Gorillas are returning to the Houston Zoo in 2015! In December 2010, we opened the first phase of the African Forest and unveiled four new animal habitats: chimp, giraffe, white rhino, and cheetah. The gorilla habitat, which also will house red river hogs, is the second phase of our long-term master plan and brings the most-requested animal back after a ten year absence.

All modern zoos strive to heighten awareness of the plight of vanishing wildlife and seek support from the visiting public to prevent their total disappearance. The Houston Zoo’s new gorilla habitat and our ambassador gorillas will enable us to increase our conservation support for wild gorillas while educating our guests.

The Making of a Gorilla Habitat

To design the habitat for our gorillas, we selected a highly-regarded zoo design firm out of Seattle, The Portico Group. Together we developed a site plan that takes into account all of the advantages and challenges of the Houston climate, ensuring we give the gorillas the space to enjoy their lush, green surroundings while keeping them comfortable and cool in the hot summer and warm in the winter.

Next we selected a project manager (Lorrie Foreman of Venturi Outcomes) and general contractor (W.S. Bellows Construction Company) to make our vision a reality. Proper construction and secure enclosures are crucial: it is no small task to ensure these highly intelligent and agile apes are safe and able to thrive. It also comes at no small cost – $28 million.

Explore Project Details

Our Gorillas

When the exhibit is near completion we will bring two zoo-born groups to the Houston Zoo – a family and a male bachelor group. Guests will view our gorillas in the African Forest from several perspectives: eye-to-eye through reinforced glass panels, from above on elevated walkways, or across other invisible barriers. The addition of red river hogs will further enhance their natural habitat.



We Need Your Support

Your support is critical to our capital campaign. Your gift will help transport millions of guests through an exploration of the African Forest at the Houston Zoo while helping them understand the importance of protecting wildlife and wild places. We are well on our way to reaching the $28 million needed to support this significant enhancement to our Zoo, but there are still funds to raise. If you would like to be a part of this journey, please consider making a contribution to help bring gorillas to the Houston Zoo.

Naming Opportunities

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If you have further questions or need additional information, please contact the Development Department at 713-533-6819 or development@houstonzoo.org.

Site Plan

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Preserving Ancient Oaks

Seven large trees were moved to the exhibit site from other areas of the Zoo so the gorillas’ forest habitat will be fully established when we open the exhibit in 2015. One of these trees was a massive, 160,000+ pound live oak, which will be a signature element in this gorilla adventure.

Gorilla Conservation

The Houston Zoo is committed to gorilla conservation in the wild and we partner with a number of conservation organizations to protect these endangered animals. Returning gorillas to the Houston Zoo will help to highlight our conservation efforts as well as the work of our conservation partners.

Learn More about Houston Zoo Gorilla Conservation