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Attwater’s Prairie Chicken

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.


How You Can Help

  • Donate to the Houston Zoo’s conservation fund to help support this project and prevent the Attwater’s Prairie Chicken from going the way of the dodo bird.Donate_Now_Button
  • Sponsor an Attwater’s Prairie Chicken through the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department
  • Learn More about this incredible bird and the efforts we are taking to protect it. Learn More

Sea Turtles

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:

  • Holding Sea Turtle events on Zoo grounds to increase awareness about sea turtles
  • Educating teachers and students about sea turtle conservation efforts in Texas
  • Partically funding and designing sea turtle awareness signs that are posted on Galveston beaches. The public information line is sponsored by Sea Turtle Restoration Project.
  • Participating in weekly beach surveys to look for stranded or nesting sea turtles.
  • Supporting partical funding and construction of monofilament (fishing line) recycling bins to decrease the occurrences of sea turtle entanglement.
  • Funding the 2009 nesting patrol season

How You Can Help

  • Call 1-866-TURTLE-5 if you see sea turtle tracks on the beach that run from the water to the dunes – if the turtle has finished nesting, there will be another set of tracks running back to the water. Tracks for Kemp’s ridley sea turtles will be drags about 2 ft in diameter, and you should see marks from their flippers and flipper claw.
  • Learn more about sea turtles and educate your friends and family about them
  •  Learn More about Sea Turtles

Donate now to help sea turtles:

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Sea Turtle Updates

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.

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Houston Toad

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.


How You Can Help

Donate now to help Houston toads:

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Texas Tortoise

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.


How You Can Help


Pollinators

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.


How You Can Help

  • Learn more about pollinators so you can tell your friends and family why it’s important to keep these special creatures around for the long haul Learn More About Pollinators
  • Write your government officials demanding sustainable farming practices – systemic pesticides are the probable cause of Colony Collapse Disorder (the mass disappearance of worker honeybees from a hive) and have caused a sharp decline in honeybee populations in the US and around the world. You can watch the critically acclaimed documentary, “The Vanishing of the Bees” for more information.
  • Buy organic!  95% of our food crops are treated with pesticides – these fruits, vegetables and grains may be a little cheaper than their organic counterparts at the grocery store, but there are hidden costs with “cheap food” like health risks to you and your family, and environmental damage that negatively affects all of us.  Frequent your local Houston Farmer’s Market for great organic produce!
  • Create a bee-friendly garden and provide nesting habitat for native bees.  Its inexpensive and a great way to get in touch with nature for both kids and adults.  Learn all you can about our fascinating native bees and spread the word to friends and neighbors – every little bit of habitat helps!

Donate to the Zoo’s general conservation fund to help pollinators and other animals in the wild:

East Texas Black Bear

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:

  • Public education and outreach programs on bear awareness
  • Identifying and evaluating suitable black bear habitat in East Texas
  • Hunter education and safety programs
  • Promoting forested habitat and landscape protection in East Texas and prevention of further fragmentation


How You Can Help

  • Learn more about the history of black bears in Texas and get a resource guide for educators  Black Bear Resource Guide 
  • Respect the environment of black bears and educate your community about them

Donate now to help East Texas black bears and other animals in the wild:

Texas Conservation

Protecting Our Heritage

Texas is one of the most biologically diverse states in our nation, second only to California in this regard. The Lone Star State boasts the greatest number of bird and reptile species and the second highest number of mammals. Of approximately 6,000 different kinds of native plants, at least 425 are endemic – found nowhere else in the world.

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) is responsible for ensuring the survival of these species, and Houston Zoo staff members work with them to implement a comprehensive conservation strategy, including creating biological inventories, protecting wetlands, developing partnerships, and increasing support for conservation on private lands.


Wildlife We Protect:

 


Click here to view and download printable pdfs on how to help pollinators!

Click here to view and download printable pdfs on how to help pollinators!

Pollinators

When you pour maple syrup on your pancakes, chow down on some chocolate, devour ice cream, or use tasty spices for dinner, are you aware that all of these items exist because of pollen? Just as important as the pollen itself are the amazing members of the animal kingdom who move pollen from one plant to another, allowing the plants to make seeds that then help create some of your favorite products. In fact, we have pollinators to thank for up to 30% of what we eat!

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