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Gorillas in the Wild

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Dr. Jan from Gorilla Doctors with orphaned gorilla, Shamavu.

With the arrival of our gorillas and a brand new exhibit opening in May 2015, we are committed to ensuring gorillas are protected in the wild. Houston Zoo staff spent almost the entire month of March visiting our gorilla conservation partners in Rwanda to see how we can continue to grow our partnerships to ensure mountain gorillas are protected. The Houston Zoo partners with Gorilla Doctors, GRACE, and Conservation Heritage-Turambe, all of which are based in Central Africa near gorilla habitat.

Gorilla Doctors works in Rwanda, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo providing wild gorillas with in-the-field veterinary care. The Houston Zoo provides vital medical supplies for Gorilla Doctors to treat sick and injured eastern lowland and mountain gorillas. In addition, we provide equipment for gorilla tracking and monitoring for Gorilla Doctors to assess the health of wild gorillas.

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Group photo with GRACE and Gorilla Doctors, who work together to ensure the best care and future for orphaned and injured gorillas in the wild.
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Art created through Conservation Heritage Turambe meant to create a focus on wildlife and human-wildlife issues.

GRACE, the Gorilla Rehabilitation and Conservation Education Center works in the Democratic Republic of Congo. GRACE provides facilities and care for rescued Grauer’s gorillas while working alongside local communities to ensure gorilla survival in the wild. The Houston Zoo assists GRACE by offering staff expertise to meet captive husbandry and management challenges for the rescued gorillas being housed at GRACE. The Zoo also supports local community educational programming and offers technical assistance for interactive marketing and website design.

Conservation Heritage-Turambe (CHT) is a conservation education program based in Rwanda. The staff of educators and artists is made up completely by Rwandans. This project seeks to ensure both people and wildlife (like gorillas) are healthy. By educating 200 children in schools located next to gorilla habitat annually about health, art and wildlife conservation, CHT ensures that the next generation of Rwandans are committed to protecting wildlife and wild places. The Houston Zoo assists CHT by providing vital funding for their classroom programming as well as CHT staff salaries.
By collaborating on activities which seek to save gorillas in the wild while inspiring our Houston community to save gorillas through our brand new exhibit, we can ensure that gorillas throughout Africa will be safe for generations to come.


Gorilla Doctors and the Houston Zoo

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Dr. Eddy in the wild with orphaned gorilla, Matabishi.

Check out a Blog Post from one of our Veterinary Partners at Gorilla Doctors who visited the Houston Zoo! Gorilla Doctors are a team of international veterinarians that provide hands-on medical care to sick and injured mountain gorillas living in the national parks of Rwanda, Uganda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. With less than 800 mountain gorillas left in the world today, the health and well-being of every individual gorilla is a priority to Gorilla Doctors and is vital to the species’ survival.

Dr. Eddy came to visit the Houston Zoo to learn additional veterinary techniques, and wrote this post on his experiences with us. English is not Dr. Eddy’s first language, so though the post may be a bit of a different read, it came directly from Dr. Eddy which we really enjoy being able to share!

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Dr. Eddy from Gorilla Doctors ready to go out and save some wildlife!

I am Dr. Eddy Kambale Syaluha, I am a Head veterinarian of Gorilla Doctors/DRCongo, I was awarded a scholarship of America Association of Zoo veterinarian, Florida-Orlando, and thanks to this financial support from AAZV, I travelled to USA to attend the conference and to present a paper about Cardio-vascular Disease and hepatic disease in wild Grauers Gorilla.

While waiting for the AAZV conference, my boss Dr. Jan Ramer (Regional manager, Gorilla Doctors), arranged for me to travel to USA, Texas-Houston from Kigali/Rwanda airport via Doha-Qatar airport. The aim was to visit the Houston Zoo from to work with the Zoo animal Hospital, learning from their long experience about animal health management in zoo. The second reason was to attend the Gorilla Doctors’ board members meeting and participate to the Houston Zoo the Wild Life Conservation Gala to raise money to support gorilla conservation efforts in Africa of two organizations (Gorilla Doctors and GRACE) that work to save gorillas.

First of all, I give my special thanks to the veterinarian unit, managers and the animal careers team, which endlessly have shown the indescribable love to me, being very patient with my poor English expression and accent. I had all I needed during my stay and I was very spoiled by the Houston Zoo team. I was very proud working with people of a great smile, willing to teach me, to feed me and to take me around.
I also thank my host, lovely Mama Lisa, One Step and Project RWANDA.

During my stay in the Houston Zoo I participated to the daily veterinarian rounds, worked with various animals species, visiting various services and I was impressed with the infrastructure in place and new technology equipment which are used in the Hospital for diagnostic and treatment. I was lucky to visit different animals’ exhibition/holding, and so I saw a big number of animals’ species which I could never see in my life if I could not visit the Houston Zoo.

I was also invited in the Harris County Veterinary Medical Foundation (HCVMF, a non-profit educational foundation dedicated to promoting public awareness of the medical and humane issues affecting the health and welfare of animals and public health) to present the Gorilla Doctors’ work in Africa and to participate to the veterinary capacity building session in “Emergency and Critical Care Medicine for the Small Animal Veterinary Team”. This was also another day, during which I learn new things about veterinary medicine and I met many people, got new relations with scientists having a relevant back ground in veterinary medicine.

A big thank you Dr. Joe and Dr. Maryanne for taking me to this great meeting.

I can’t forget the day I spent at the SPCA with Dr. Maryanne, where I got more training on surgery in dogs and cats; I visited the facility and I got to know more about animal rescue and rehabilitation service.

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The Houston Wildlife Conservation Gala attendees with Dr. Eddy. Among them is our Houston Zoo crew, and some fabulous guests (including Jack Hanna).

After the board meeting at the Houston Zoo, I participate to the Conservation Gala dinner and auction and the main speaker of the evening was Jack Hanna. The night was very impressive, more than 500 people attended the event and it was my first time to attend such big fundraising event. The Gorilla Doctors team was well represented by its board members team and GRACE team was also well represented by the lovely couple of Tammie and Joe, as well by Sonya and Luitzen. Each group had to give a short speech of what he is doing to save gorillas’ life in Africa.

The big message, I got during my stay and I will never forget, was that Houston Zoo is helping and educating people to save animals in wild, and I was really pleased to hear that speech from Houston Zoo. Thanks for Helping African great apes.

The big challenge, I had in Houston, was that my stay was very short and I shortly enjoy the barbecue. I wish to come back and have more time, working and staying with lovely people. You are all special and I keep you in my heart.

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Travel With Us

Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands
August 26 – September 4, 2016

Find yourself among rare and exciting wildlife, both on land and in the sea! On the islands you will be able to snorkel with exotic wildlife and reach the beaches to relax next to reptiles and birds that are only seen in this part of the world. Take a journey with us to learn, relax, and see part of the Ecuadorian culture!

A Galapagos Tortoise takes in his beautiful surroundings.
A Galapagos Tortoise takes in his beautiful surroundings.

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Upcoming Events

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Gorillas Opening at the Zoo!
Friday, May 22, 2015

Their power, legendary. Their movements, majestic. Their presence, simply awesome. And now they’re here.Gorillas have arrived at the Houston Zoo, and now you can experience everything that makes them so wonderful. Up close and incredible.

We’ve got a webpage dedicated just to the Gorilla Exhibit, so check it out and learn more about what you can see and how to save them in the wild!


What’s New

Cell Phones at the Gorilla House?

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Used cell phones fill up our exhibit in the newly constructed gorilla house. All of these cell phones have had their batteries and other internal parts removed to be reused!

The Houston Zoo is incredibly excited to unveil our brand new gorilla exhibit to the public at the end of May. In addition to viewing our 7 gorillas, guests will be able to learn more about our partners in Africa that are actively saving gorillas, as well as what Houstonians can do to save these amazing animals. A prominent feature of the gorilla exhibit is a very large graphic of a gorilla, filled with recycled cell phones! This piece of art demonstrates how recycling our electronics (like cell phones) helps protect gorilla habitat in Africa. Our cell phones, cameras and laptops contain a material that is mined in gorilla habitat. By recycling these products we can reduce the demand for these materials and protect gorilla homes. So make sure to check out this cell phone structure when you visit the gorilla exhibit-and remember to recycle your phones at the zoo’s front entrance near guest relations!


Action for Apes Update

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Just since February you have recycled almost 200 cell phones at the Zoo! Our cell phones, cameras and laptops contain a material that is mined in gorilla habitat. By recycling these products we can reduce the demand for these materials and protect gorilla homes. Visit our gorilla exhibit to see how you can help save wildlife like gorillas just by reusing these types of electronics, and have fun with some of our interactive exhibits!


Houston’s Gorilla Graffiti

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Sebastien “Mr. D” Boileau works on one of five gorilla murals now positioned around Houston.

The Houston Zoo is saving wildlife and asking our community to join us.  Gorillas are coming to the Zoo in May and we have been supporting efforts to protect them in the wild for over 5 years.  Since we began our support we have seen the population increase by 100 in the wild!  Successes like this are helping define our existence.  The Zoo is so excited to celebrate new identity and we are doing what we can to get the word out.

We have teamed up with some amazing street artists to help us reveal and celebrate our Zoo and new gorilla residents.  The artists are saving animals in the wild as they create their beautiful murals; one artist uses recycled paint for all of her murals! Join us in saving wildlife by visiting the Zoo, as every time you go through the gates you contribute efforts to protect animals in the wild!

Meet the Artists!

Artist Anat Ronen and Her Recycled Paint


Every time you visit the Zoo, you help save animals in the wild.

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If you have any questions about our programs and partners, or would like any additional information, email us at conservation@houstonzoo.org .