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Meet The Animals
Believe it or not, the Attwater’s Prairie Chicken is not a chicken! It’s technically a grouse – and it’s vanishing from the coastal prairies of Texas. It is estimated that less than 100 of these birds are left in the wild. The Houston Zoo manages the captive breeding programs for the Attwater’s Prairie Chicken. We have breeding facilities both behind the scenes at the Zoo and at NASA’s Johnson Space Center. When the birds hatch and grow large enough, they are slowly introduced and then released into the wild, where they will support the already existing populations.
There are 5 species of sea turtles inhabiting the Gulf of Mexico, all of which are considered to be either threatened or endangered. They include the Kemp’s ridley, green, leatherback, Atlantic hawksbill, and loggerhead sea turtles. Some of the threats these sea turtles face in the Gulf are drowning in shrimp nets, getting caught in hook and line, vehicle traffic, development of beaches, ocean and light pollution. Sea Turtle populations are slowly recovering thanks to the collaborative effort of the scientific community, grass roots organizations and many dedicated people. The Houston Zoo has treated over 200 sea turtles since 2010 in our veterinary clinic, which are then brought to the sea turtle barn in Galveston to prepare for reintroduction. You may also catch a glimpse of a recovering sea turtle at the Zoo in the Kipp Aquarium.
We also assist by:
Donate now to help sea turtles:
In 2012, we treated 122 Sea turtles including: 63 Loggerheads, 20 Greens, 37 Kemp’s ridleys and 2 Hawksbills. The Houston Zoo also assisted in 2 Kemp’s ridley sea turtle beach releases as seen below.
The Houston Toad actually doesn’t live in Houston at all, anymore – it resides in Bastrop, Austin, and Colorado Counties, as well as a few others in the area, having disappeared from Houston in the 1960s following extensive drought and urban expansion. The Houston Zoo is proud to partner with the USFWS, TPWD and Texas State University to have a breeding and reintroduction program for the critically endangered Houston toad.
In the spring of 2007, this program began when the only known egg strands laid by Houston toads that year were delivered to the Zoo for “head starting” – a way to start the toad’s life in captivity and release them when they reach a certain maturity. Since then, we have been building a population at the Zoo to be sure that the toads will not go extinct, as well as releasing toads into the wild to build the population there. So far, we have released more than 20,000 toads! We also monitor and survey existing populations of toads in the wild.
Donate now to help Houston toads:
See and Hear Texas Toads
Texas Toad Audio Call
Woodhouse Toad Call Audio
Houston Toad Call
Coastal Plains Toad Call
The Texas tortoise, Gopherus berlandier, is a native tortoise to south Texas and the northern regions of Mexico. It is a protected species in Texas and is currently listed as state threatened with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. Decades of illegal collection and breeding of tortoises has resulted in hundreds, if not thousands, of Texas tortoises in captivity. Escaped or released tortoises often wind up far outside of their natural range and many are encountered in inappropriate habitat for the species. The Houston Zoo has partnered with Texas Parks and Wildlife and the Gladys Porter Zoo to help implement an awareness campaign in south Texas. We have created brochures in English and Spanish that are distributed across this area in state parks, zoos, and environmental education centers.
A pollinator is an animal that transports pollen from one plant to another – as plants cannot walk, run or fly; this is an extremely valuable service! Without pollinators, most plants would not be able to reproduce. A wide variety of animals are pollinators, including insects (beetles, flies, butterflies and the most expert of them all – bees!). Birds and bats are also pollinators along with a few lizards, slugs and even a lemur! Alarming rates of habitat loss combined with the rampant use of chemical pesticides in agriculture and even by homeowners means bees are in big trouble. Bee-pollinated plants provide us with every third bite of food we eat… it is certainly in our best interest to take care of ALL of our bees, honeybees and native bees alike.
Black bears (Ursus americanus) are a part of the heritage of Texas. They were widely distributed throughout Texas prior to 1820, but due to colonization and habitat loss, bears vanished from all but a small portion of the Big Thicket. Today, they are returning to their historic range, but a plan must be formed to ensure public and political support to be sure they will continue to flourish. The Zoo has partnered with the East Texas Black Bear Task Force and the Black Bear Conservation Committee in the development of educational outreach and awareness programs related to Black Bears in the East Texas region.
These programs include:
The Coastal Prairie of Texas and Louisiana is critically imperiled. Although this once vast ecosystem covered most of Houston and the Gulf coast between Corpus Christi, TX and Lafayette, LA, less than 1/10 of 1% of this ecosystem remains in a relatively pristine condition today.The mission of the Coastal Prairie Partnership is to promote the conservation and restoration of Coastal Prairie ecosystems. This grass-roots coalition includes local, state, and federal governments, as well as non-governmental institutions, private individuals, and landowners. The Houston Zoo is actively involved in this partnership, having hosted the State of the Prairie Conference for 2 years, and we have plans to create a prairie garden at the Zoo to raise awareness of prairie conservation.