Provide & Protect is a giving program supporting two important pursuits at the Houston Zoo:
Practicing exemplary animal care and taking action to save animals in the wild.
Provide for the care and feeding of the Houston Zoo’s animal ambassadors and help protect their most vulnerable wild counterparts! Provide & Protect gives individuals and organizations the opportunity to make a substantial philanthropic gift that has an enduring effect on the Zoo and critical conservation efforts around the world.
Animals at the Zoo live healthy, enriched lives thanks to the dedication of our friends and donors. In the wild, these species face tremendous adversity to their survival. Your generous contribution will be used where it’s needed most to care for animals at the Zoo while also supporting our conservation partners in the field.
Each elephant receives a daily bath and their 80,000 gallon play pool gets plenty of use. Good thing, too, because they are fond of covering themselves in dirt and mud! We periodically add sand to their habitat to encourage this natural behavior and to keep the ground soft to maintain good foot health. Our keepers have developed close bonds with each elephant, allowing them to teach behaviors that help our veterinarian team conduct routine exams.
The Houston Zoo supports the Kinabatangan Elephant Conservation Unit which works with local communities in Borneo to raise awareness and give farmers tools to create elephant-friendly crop protection. We also provide funding for radio collars, camera traps, and graduate student scholarships for the Danau Girang Field Centre, which is conducting the first-ever population biology study of the Bornean elephant.
To help ensure the long-term success of these efforts, the Houston Zoo also assists with implementing conservation and education programming to empower young conservation leaders. In 2014 alone we helped train 6 local educators in the Galapagos, provided conservation education programming to 146 local Ecuadorian students, and examined close to 1,300 tortoises.
We go to great lengths to ensure these highly intelligent beings receive excellent care. No story illustrates this dedication better than that of baby Aurora. Soon after she was born in March 2011, mother Kelly abandoned Aurora, refusing to care for her newborn. After the decision was made to temporarily hand-rear Aurora, 50 trained staff and volunteers began providing round-the-clock care over the next 302 days. Eventually, Cheyenne stepped into the role of surrogate mother and now provides the motherly attention that young Aurora needs.
To reverse this trend, the HUTAN-Kinabatangan Orangutan Conservation Program (KOCP) was established in 1998. KOCP is studying the effects that habitat fragmentation and destruction have on orangutans while using outreach to local communities to promote coexistence with orangutans. One of their most important findings has shown that there is an urgent need to re-connect forests that have been fragmented by palm oil plantations and logging. The more orangutans are isolated from each other, the less likely they are to survive as a species.
Cheetahs are most well-known for their speed, so to really stretch their legs Kito and Kiburi are taken to the Houston Dynamo’s practice field where they chase a lure pulled by a high-speed winch. They’ve been clocked going as fast as 42 miles per hour, and even Taji gets in on the action!
The Houston Zoo works side-by-side with the Ruaha Carnivore Project in Tanzania’s Ruaha National Park to protect cheetahs in the wild. To that end, the Ruaha Carnivore Project is reducing human-carnivore conflict by providing farmers with guard dogs similar to Taji, our Anatolian shepherd, to protect their livestock. So far, this organization has placed 4 Anatolian shepherds with local farmers and by 2018 aims to place 50 guard dogs of varying breeds.
Southern White Rhinoceros
A few showers each week helps their keepers get a better look at their hooves and skin. But the rhino boys aren’t clean for too long once they start playing in their mud wallow! For rhinos, mud makes an ideal sunblock and bug repellant. Having multiple species in a habitat is enriching for both guests and animals, so George, Indy, and Mumbles share their space with kudu antelope.
The Houston Zoo partners with the International Rhino Foundation (IRF) to support urgently needed conservation efforts. IRF is working to save the remaining species of rhino and their habitats. While there is still much work to be done, IRF’s work has helped stabilize black and white rhino populations in Africa.
The Houston Zoo partners with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in Galveston to treat an average of 75 sea turtles each year before preparing them for reintroduction to the wild. We further assist local sea turtle conservation efforts by participating in beach surveys, providing educational signage for beaches, and hosting events at the Zoo to show guests how they can help save sea turtles.
Providing mental stimulation is an important part of caring for our lions, so we use enrichment to encourage their natural hunting instincts. For instance, sometimes our keepers will dangle a tempting chunk meat from a zip-line for the pride to pounce. New odors added to their habitat engage their strong sense of smell – Jonathan in particular loves to roll around in feces from our Ankole cattle!
This vast expanse of wilderness is home to one third of Mozambique’s lion population, but such concentrations lead to conflict with human communities. We support NLP’s efforts to promote co-existence with lions through their long-term approach that focuses on the well-being of people as well as animals. For example, NLP is currently testing the viability of “living fences” made of thorny native plants that are easy to maintain and naturally separate lions and villagers’ livestock.
We took great care when designing our gorillas’ home to ensure it provides everything they need to live healthy and enriched lives. The naturalistic setting and its residents connect guests to our conservation partners. As with all of our animals, our keepers and veterinarians will work diligently to ensure gorillas thrive in their new habitat through expert care.
The first facility of its kind in east central Africa, GRACE can house up to 15 orphaned gorillas in 350 acres of natural habitat. Gorilla Doctors works in Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Uganda and is the only international team of veterinarians providing direct, hands-on care to gorillas in the wild. Conservation Heritage-Turambe uses after-school programming and community outreach in Rwanda to promote gorilla conservation. In addition to funding, the Houston Zoo provides staff training, technical assistance, and awareness-building for these organizations that have dedicated themselves to creating a brighter future for gorillas.
The Houston Zoo partners with the Colombian Zoo Association for the conservation of these birds. Our efforts have focused on assisting Colombian breeding programs to increase the number of birds available for reintroduction to the wild. In January 2014 we celebrated the first-ever hatching of a captive blue-billed curassow in Colombia. Since then, 10 more chicks have been hatched and successfully raised and will eventually help restore the wild population.
The births of sifaka and ring-tailed lemur babies in 2013 and 2014 kept our primate keepers busy making sure each one grows healthy and strong. The first three days of life for a lemur baby are critical, so they are weighed daily to make sure they are gaining weight. To feed our growing family, our Horticulture team collects browse grown on Zoo grounds and brings it to our animal nutrition specialists for inspection and cleaning. This browse makes up about half of the daily diet for our sifakas.
The Houston Zoo partners with GERP, whose name, translated from French, is the Primates of Madagascar Research and Study Group. Our support of GERP since November 2013 has resulted in several successes, including the reforestation of 12,000 trees and the translocation of a crowned sifaka group to a better habitat.
Questions about Provide & Protect?
Call 713-533-6705 or e-mail email@example.com