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The Houston Zoo is Saving Gorillas in the Wild!


With our new gorillas arriving in 2015 we are very excited to be completing the finishing touches of their new state of the art habitat here at the Zoo.  Many long-time Houston residents remember M’kubwa, the last gorilla to reside here. Mac, as he was affectionately known, was not only the last gorilla to reside here but was also the last Grauer’s gorilla in the United States. All of the gorillas in zoos are now western lowland gorillas. We will have western lowland gorillas in our new habitat, but will also support a project in Central Africa that helps Grauer’s gorillas, as all species are important to us. We think M’kubwa would be pleased to know his wild relatives mean so much.

The number of Grauer’s left in the wild is unknown but we know that they are losing their habitat faster than any other gorilla population. They face threats including mining for gold, diamond and tantalum (used in the manufacturing of electronics like cell phones) which destroys their homes, while poaching captures infants from the wild for pets.  In 2008, reports of young Grauer’s gorillas being held illegally were on the rise, but there was no place to send the orphans once they were confiscated by authorities.


A small village near Tayna (Tah-ee-nuh) Nature Reserve, in the DRC offered a helping hand by giving land for a gorilla orphanage. The Gorilla Rehabilitation and Conservation Education Center (GRACE) was built on that land and is now saving Grauer’s gorillas in the wild.  The first orphans arrived in 2010 and now the current population is 14 gorillas.  The goal for each of these individuals is to introduce them back to the wild healthy and able to continue growing the population.


How the Zoo is Saving Gorillas in the Wild:

Houston Zoo staff travels to the Congo to offer expertise with the captive gorillas to the local GRACE staff.  They provide training in how to encourage natural behaviors by the gorillas in a captive setting so that the animals are well-equipped to return to the wild.  Houston zoo staff has also offered assistance by collecting video footage of the gorilla saving efforts in Central Africa, website design and management and logo design.

How You Can Help:

Recycle your unused cell phones!

  • A material (called tantalum) is found in almost every cell phone, as well as laptops and cameras. This material comes from the ground in Central Africa, which happens to be where gorillas live.
  • When the material is taken from gorillas habitats to be used in electronics, the homes of gorillas become disrupted and these animal populations decrease.
  • If you recycle your old cell phone with us, then the materials in the phone can be reused instead of getting new minerals from the ground in Central Africa.

Donate now to help gorillas in the wild:



The Houston Zoo has recycled 7100 cell phones to date!  Help us build that number!

When you recycle your cell phone at the zoo, we return it to a company called Eco-Cell that sells the individual parts of the phone so that they can be reused. This will reduce the need to extract the mineral from Africa.

Cell Phone Recycle Gorilla Lg

Attend our annual Conservation Gala with special guest, Jack Hanna in October.  Proceeds from the event will go to saving gorillas in the wild.  The event will have opportunities to meet gorilla researchers, enjoy special animal encounters, auctions, and hear all about Jack Hanna’s amazing experiences with gorillas.

Purchase your tickets or donate to save gorillas in the wild!


More successes so far in 2014!

We are proud to be able provide veterinary support to 53 sea turtles and return them to the Gulf of Mexico with the help of our sea turtle expert and vet, Dr. Joe, as well as help from NOAA Galveston!


The endangered Houston Toad has received a population boost due to our amazing toad crew who were able to produce 180,000 eggs that were released into the wild this Spring!


Attwater’s prairie chickens now have a stronger chance of increasing their population in the wild as our bird keepers have already raised 71 prairie chickens and released them into their natural habitat!


We could not support these wild animals in need if not for your support and donations! Thank you for all of your help. Remember that every visit you make to the Zoo helps  save animals in the wild, as every purchase at the Zoo from the gift shop to Zoo tickets helps to fund our conservation projects!


Upcoming Events


Feed Your Wild Life Conservation Gala
Wednesday, October 15th  

You can save gorillas in the wild by attending this exciting event! The Houston Zoo supports great ape conservation through many projects throughout the year. Learn more about our conservation efforts, join us at the 2014 Feed Your Wild Life Conservation Gala, or get your community group involved in conservation.



Giraffe Conservation International
September 25, 2014, 7:00-8:30 p.m. 

Julian Fennessy, Executive Director of Giraffe Conservation Foundation, will be speaking on his 15+ years experience in species and habitat ecology, conservation and land management across the African continent (and Australia), and in particular, focal giraffe related activities across Africa.  Limited availability.


Travel with Us

Join us on our biologist guided adventures to Yellowstone.  Watch wolves, bison and elk in amazing wilderness!

  • September 28-October 2 – Yellowstone Fall expedition
  • October 31-November 5 – Polar Bears of Churchhill, Manitoba
  • January 31-February 6 – Yellowstone Bear, Wolf, and Elk in the Winter


Yellowstone Winter

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



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