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Saving Sharks and Other Marine Wildlife With MarAlliance

Houston Zoo and MarAlliance staff measuring a shark to keep track of healthy growth.

If you come to the Zoo you will help save sharks and other marine wildlife. The Houston Zoo utilizes a portion of your admission ticket to provide support to a marine wildlife conservation organization called the MarAlliance based in Central America. MarAlliance’s vision is simply to see more big fish like sharks and other wildlife in the sea. They work with local fishers to monitor marine wildlife and determine the best ways to protect them.

MarAlliance has marine wildlife monitoring and awareness programs in Belize, Guatemala, Honduras and Mexico.  The Houston Zoo has provided many forms of support for the MarAlliance.  Our Houston Zoo staff photographer has helped through photo cataloging while another staff member assisted them with strategic planning.  In May, Houston Zoo conservation and media staff members traveled to Belize to teach a conservation messaging video workshop for MarAlliance and eight other marine conservation organizations in Central America. The workshop focused on teaching participants video techniques and effective methods of communicating conservation messages.  We also assisted with their protection efforts by working alongside their local fisherman staff and to tag sharks and swim specific areas to count and record marine wildlife like sharks, rays and sea turtles.

Houston Zoo and MarAlliance staff checking in on the health of a very large sea turtle!

MarAlliance and the Houston Zoo are working hard to ensure protection for our ocean.  You can help by committing to eating only ocean-friendly sea food, which means seafood that has been caught in ways that is healthy for the ocean and other marine animals.  All of the seafood we serve to our animals and humans at the Zoo is ocean-friendly.  You can help protect our oceans in your everyday life by using the Monterey Bay Seafood Watch app to guide your seafood choices.  Download the app from the Apple Store or Google Play.

Working with Sea Turtles : Update

The weather is warming up here in Texas, and that means it is sea turtle season on our local beaches! We began with a huge celebration-a public release of more than 50 sea turtles at the end of May! In conjunction with NOAA and Moody Gardens, nearly 50 Kemp’s ridley sea turtles were successfully rehabilitated after cold stunning in Cape Cod Bay. These turtles were relocated to Galveston for rehabilitation, and the Zoo’s Vet Clinic provided critical medical care to ensure these turtles would be healthy enough to be released back into the wild. On May 27th, despite rainy and windy weather, nearly 150 people from the general public watched as more than 50 rehabilitated sea turtles returned to the wild.

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A sea turtle being released back into the wild after rehabilitation.

And just recently, 2 Houston Zoo staff returned from visiting our partners at NOAA in Panama City, Florida as they conducted their annual turtle excluder device gear testing (a device that saves sea turtles from being trapped in fishing nets). Each year, the NOAA Galveston Laboratory cares for hundreds of loggerhead sea turtles that are used to test Turtle Excluder Devices (TEDs) which are required by law to be included in shrimp nets in the Gulf of Mexico. These TEDs are extremely important as they allow fishermen to catch shrimp while not accidentally catching sea turtles. Each year, NOAA tests new TEDs by putting sea turtles through the new devices and timing how long it takes for the turtles to escape. If under a certain amount of time, the TED device can be certified and used by shrimp fishermen around the world. The Houston Zoo was thankful to be part of this critical work, ensuring that the Gulf shrimp we know and love is caught in a way that is safe for sea turtles.  You can help save sea turtles by making ocean-friendly seafood choices at restaurants and in the grocery store. Download the Seafood Watch app, from the Apple Store or Google Play, which helps tell you what seafood to eat to help ensure a healthy ocean!

Employees from NOAA work to switch out the turtle excluder device to be tested in the shrimp net.
Employees from NOAA work to switch out the turtle excluder device to be tested in the shrimp net.
The Caretta, the shrimp boat used annually by NOAA to conduct turtle excluder device testing for the protection of sea turtles.
The Caretta, the shrimp boat used annually by NOAA to conduct turtle excluder device testing for the protection of sea turtles.

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 baby seal napping in the Galapagos.

Wildlife and Landscapes: Greater Yellowstone in Winter
January 30th – February 6, 2016

Travel to a winter wonderland, visiting the best sites in Grand Teton and Yellowstone to view moose, bighorn sheep, pronghorn, eagles and the wildlife of Grand Tetons and Yellowstone National Park. Enjoy looking for wolves in Lamar Valley and learning about all the packs in the park from our knowledgeable guides. You’ll take pleasure in looking for elk and bison in North America’s “Little Serengeti,” and famed scenic highlights of the world’s first national park!

Capture a great photo of a bison in the snow!
Capture a great photo of a bison in the snow!


Upcoming Events

Gorilla currently being rehabilitated at GRACE.

Speaker Series: Hope for Grauer’s Gorillas 
Wednesday, September 22, 2015 @7PM in the Brown Education Center, Houston Zoo

Dr. Sonya Kahlenberg is a great ape behavioral biologist with over a decade of experience working in great ape conservation. She is currently the Executive Director of the Gorilla Rehabilitation and Conservation Education (GRACE) Center, a sanctuary and conservation project for highly endangered Grauer’s gorillas, a little-known gorilla subspecies that is endemic to war-torn eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.  GRACE was founded in 2009 in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo to rehabilitate orphaned Grauer’s gorillas and to work alongside local communities to ensure gorilla survival in the wild.


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Tending to coral ‘trees’ that help regrow coral populations.

Speaker Series: Houston Zoo Staff Saving Wildlife
Tuesday, November 10, 2015 @7PM in the Brown Education Center, Houston Zoo 

Join us  to hear two of our staff share their efforts to save animals in the wild. We will have both a marine and land focus as Mike Concannon, our Aquarium Supervisor, will speak on his efforts to save marine corals while Chris Holmes, Assistant Curator of Birds, will share his experiences in saving the Blue-billed curassow in Columbia.

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Chris Holmes with a Blue-billed curassow here at the Houston Zoo.

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 .