August’s Featured Member: The Marcotte Family

We love our Members. Their incredible support allows us to make a difference to animals both locally and all over the world. This month, we’re spotlighting a family of Zoo Members that deserve recognition. We’re thrilled to introduce you to August’s Featured Members: The Marcotte Family


We asked the Marcotte’s to share a few words about what being a Zoo Member means to them. Here’s what they had to say.

 

marcottes“We’ve had our membership for just under a year, but I can already say with confidence that it is the best gift we have ever received.  As a stay-at-home mom, I have lots of opportunities to come during the week with my two girls, Jenna (2 1/2) and Juliette (8 months).  We also frequently come as a family on the weekends, and my husband, Jacob, loves to take the girls on his own for special daddy/daughter dates.  It’s the perfect setting because there are so many places for the girls to explore, play, and learn.  To me, a membership means a relaxed and truly enjoyable visit to the zoo.  There’s no pressure to see every exhibit or push my two littles to exhaustion because we can always come back the next day.

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The layout of the zoo is so family friendly.  All of the exhibits are enjoyable and accessible for grown-ups and toddlers alike.  Our favorite spots to visit right now are the sea lions, big cats, Children’s Zoo, Natural Encounters building, and Tropical Bird house…to name a few! 🙂  We can (and do!) spend entire mornings crawling through the fish tunnel, tip-toeing across the “bird bridge,” and sliding down the otter waterfall.  I especially love all of the shade and indoor exhibits for those hot summer months!

Of course, our favorite zoo feature right now is the “DINOSAURS!” exhibit!  It is a constant topic of conversation in our house and an absolute must-see.  The way the dinosaurs move and roar is really incredible.  All of us wanted to go through again and again, and the girls left sporting a bracelet of their new favorite dinosaur, the T-Rex!

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Mostly, I love all of the different special events the zoo has throughout the year.  For Easter, the girls and I loved watching the lions and chimpanzees discovering treats inside large papier-mache eggs.  Jenna talked for weeks about the chimpanzees eating strawberries, just like her.  The Cool Nights events are also really wonderful!  The different themes are so fun, and it’s been a really special way for us to unwind and spend time as a family at the end of each week.

Thank you, Houston Zoo for designing such a wonderful place for families to learn and enjoy!”


From all of us here at the Houston Zoo, we want to say thank you to the Marcotte’s and all of our Zoo Members. As a Houston Zoo Member, your support truly makes an impact on the growth of our Zoo and conservation efforts. THANKS!

Year of the Monkey: Golden Lion Tamarins

DSC_1920By Abby Varela

Last month you were introduced to the golden-headed lion tamarins. Did you know there were three other kinds? There’s the black-faced lion tamarin which has a black head and an orange body, the black lion tamarin with all black fur except for an orange posterior, and the golden lion tamarin. True to their name, golden lion tamarins are completely covered in orange-gold fur that gets brighter the more time they spend in the sunlight. On average, golden lion tamarins are slightly larger than their close relatives, making them the largest of all the tamarin species. But that’s like saying they’re pretty big for a little monkey. At 400 to 800 grams, an adult weighs about the same as a can of soup!

Like all lion tamarins, wild golden lion tamarins can only be found in Brazil but you can see Zuno and Coari at the Natural Encounters Department of the Houston Zoo. Zuno is a male that was born at the Houston Zoo 11 years ago and Coari is a 4 year old female that came to the Houston Zoo a year ago to be his companion. Coari and Zuno could not be more different, but they go together like two peas in a pod. Zuno has always been more skittish. He is hesitant to shift into holding and is shy around new people. He swears the world is about to come to an end when he spots the star tortoises moving around on the ground beneath him. Coari on the other hand is bold, daring, has a, let’s say “strong” appetite and is definitely a positive influence on Zuno. When Zuno vocalizes his fear of the tortoises, Coari can be seen going about her business grooming herself, sunning, eating, etc., while still giving Zuno comforting chirps until he calms back down. When keepers are shifting these tamarins, Coari comes in right away and shows Zuno that there is nothing to fear and that there are plenty of great rewards for shifting. Of course, Zuno never wants to be far from Coari. He has a long history of getting along well with the pygmy marmosets that share his exhibit. Coari has taken greatly to Zuno’s friends as well and now all four can be seen frequently playing together, grooming each other, or sunning together.

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Now that you know Zuno and Coari, let’s talk some about wild golden lion tamarins, as they have an interesting conservation story… In 1992, the population ranged from 200-600 individuals, classifying them as critically endangered. They were divided in groups across 14 different forests with some being isolated to the forests they inhabited. The biggest problem they faced was deforestation and fragmentation of their habitat. Over the past 30 years zoological and conservation institutions have worked together through the Golden Lion Tamarin Conservation Program of the National Zoological Park to establish new populations through relocation of 47 individuals that were isolated, which would lead to their populations eventually dying out. The individuals were moved to the União Biological Reserve and the numbers were also increased by the reintroduction of captive born individuals to the wild. Approximately one third of the wild populations are descendants of individuals from this program. Currently, the population in União Biological Reserve is thriving and is projected to be at maximum carrying capacity.  In 2003 this population’s status was switched to endangered. There are now approximately 1,000 golden lion tamarins in the wild, with few suitable habitats left to expand the population to. If they inhabited all suitable areas, the population would most likely still remain below 2,000 individuals, which is enough to save the species in the short term, but not enough to have this species around for decades to come.

At this point, the key to saving this species at this point is continued population management and reforestation to connect the fragmented pieces of habitat.

So what can you do? One of the most fun ways you can help is visiting Zuno and Coari, where part of the money paid for each Houston Zoo ticket goes directly into conservation. You can change your everyday practices by reducing, reusing and recycling paper.

You can also donate directly to the cause through Save the Golden Lion Tamarin at http://savetheliontamarin.org/. This organization supports the Associação Mico-Leão-Dourado, which is leads international efforts to save golden lion tamarins. They are currently working to reconnect forest fragments where tamarins live, educating local people, and monitoring and protecting the wild tamarins.

Sea Lion Staff Make a Wild Impact

You may have heard the news of our adorable female sea lion pup that was recently born at the Houston Zoo. What you may not know is that in between caring for our sea lions, training them, conducting keeper chats, and engaging zoo guests, our sea lion staff is also working additional hours to create a healthier ocean for wildlife right here in Texas.

The Sea Lion Staff assists an ongoing fishing line recycling program which aims to reduce the fishing line on the Surfside Jetty in Surfside, Texas while providing an opportunity for other Zoo staff and volunteers to get involved in work outside our Zoo gates. This program was created through NOAA (the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) and the Sea Grant at Texas A&M University’s Monofilament Recovery & Recycling Program. Fishing line is a hazard to wildlife such as sea turtles, fish, rays, dolphins, and shore birds because it can entangle animals, making it hard for them to swim or fly and find food. The Sea Lion Staff conducts monthly cleanups on the Surfside Jetty, removing and recycling fishing line from the monofilament bins, as well as collecting line that is caught in between the rocks. In addition to the fishing line, they also recover trash and recyclables.

Zoo staff cleaning up the Surfside Jetty.
Zoo staff cleaning up the Surfside Jetty.

Here are their accomplishments so far:

• Began program in August 2014 
• Pounds of fishing line recycled to date – 94 lbs
• Pounds of other trash and recycled items collected to date – trash: 592 lbs, recycling: 429 lbs
• Number of staff and volunteers involved to date – 22 staff, 3 interns, 20 volunteers
• Number of different departments involved to date – 14 Zoo departments

Zoo staff removing discarded fishing line and debris from the Surfside Jetty so it does not end up entangling/harming ocean animals.
Zoo staff removing discarded fishing line and debris from the Surfside Jetty so it does not end up entangling/harming ocean animals.

The Sea Lion Staff became extremely passionate about the issue of marine debris after working with one of our previous sea lions, Astro. Astro was a California sea lion that came to us with a wound on his neck, possibly from becoming entangled in marine debris, possibly a carelessly discarded fishing net or fishing line. After working alongside Astro, the Sea Lion team dedicated their time off, weekends, and work time to reduce the threat of marine debris and entanglement on ocean animals.

Astro the sea lion was an ambassador for his species-bringing awareness to the problem of marine debris.
Astro the sea lion was an ambassador for his species-bringing awareness to the problem of marine debris.

If you visit the sea lions at the Houston Zoo, you may get a chance to see a replica fishing line recycling bin and hear about how you can help save ocean animals here in Texas. Our sea lions are not only ambassadors for our ocean-friendly seafood initiative, but they also help us tell the story of marine debris and the dangers of discarded fishing line in our oceans. You can help protect ocean animals by making sure your fishing line doesn’t end up in the water-instead, place it in a monofilament recycling bin! These bins can be found all along the Upper Texas Coast.

Look for fishing line recycling bins like this one when you are out fishing in the Galveston area! You can discard your fishing line here.
Look for fishing line recycling bins like this one when you are out fishing in the Galveston area! You can discard your fishing line here.

Green sea turtle rehabilitating in Kipp Aquarium

A green sea turtle has taken up temporary residence at the Houston Zoo! You can find the green sea turtle in the Kipp Aquarium.

Come visit the Kipp Aquarium to see a wild green sea turtle being rehabilitated!
Come visit the Kipp Aquarium to see a wild green sea turtle being rehabilitated!

This sea turtle was accidentally caught by a fisherman. The turtle was reported and biologists from NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) responded and brought the turtle to the Houston Zoo to be rehabilitated until it is ready to be released into the wild.

When a sea turtle is reported and picked up by NOAA biologists, information is taken on the individual so staff can keep track of when it came in, when it is released, its' size, etc.
When a sea turtle is reported and picked up by NOAA biologists, information is taken on the individual so staff can keep track of when it came in, when it is released, its’ size, etc.

The turtle may be ready to be released by the end of the summer, so there is a possibility it will only be at the Zoo for a short time. NOAA staff will determine when the sea turtle is ready to be released. Thanks to NOAA, Houston Zoo clinic, and aquarium staff for ensuring this turtle’s recovery and future release back into the ocean!

We hope you can visit our temporary sea turtle resident soon. You can help save sea turtles in the wild by:

  • Reducing your usTake Action_Logo_FullColor_webe of plastic. Switch from plastic grocery bags to reusable bags. Plastic grocery bags are lightweight and can blow into our waterways/bayous, ending up in the ocean. Animals like sea turtles mistake these bags for food like jellyfish. When plastic is ingested, sea turtles can become quite sick. By reducing your plastic use, you are helping to save marine animals like sea turtles.
  • Choose only ocean-friendly seafood in restaurants and the grocery store. The way our seafood is caught or farmed can be harmful to wildlife like sea turtles. Download the FREE Seafood Watch App on your phone, which will help tell you the best choice seafood to buy and eat.

Bornean Orangutans Are Now Critically Endangered

Written by Dr. Marc Ancrenaz

Dr. Marc Ancrenaz is the scientific director of the NGO Hutan and co-director of the Kinabatangan Orangutan Conservation Project, a community-based program active in wildlife research, conservation and community development in Sabah, Malaysia since 1996. The Houston Zoo is proud to support Dr. Ancrenaz and HUTAN in efforts to protect wildlife from extinction.


Orangutans are now one step closer to extinction. Based on an assessment led by Borneo Futures, scientists from the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) have officially downgraded the status of the orangutans living in Borneo to “Critically Endangered”, the last step before reaching the dreadful status of “Extinct into the Wild”[1]. Scientists have proven that the number of orangutans will decline by about 80% between 1950 and 2025 (given current development plans by the governments of Indonesia and Malaysia).

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These numbers are hard to fathom. To put them in perspective, a 80% decline is equivalent to losing four out of five people we know; it is equivalent to the disappearance of a staggering six billion of the current global human population in 75 years with no new births.

orangutan-resizeActually, many populations of orangutans have already disappeared in Borneo. Some of them because of climate changes over the past millennia, most of them because of human activities; some of them because of forest destruction and conversion to agriculture, most of them because of hunting and killing.  What is clear is that at this current rate, many more populations are going to follow this path of oblivion in a near future.

But this doesn’t necessarily mean that the species is going to go extinct anytime soon. Indeed, drastic changes about the management of the orangutan habitat could be made to save the species from extinction.

However, we need to first recognize what is orangutan habitat…

Orang-utans are great apes and are our closest living relatives. This means that they are clever and highly adaptable. Despite early claims that orangutans could only survive in pristine habitats, in Borneo, orangutans are learning how to survive in deeply modified landscapes where the original forests have been replaced with oil palm or acacia plantations. For example, they are learning how to feed or to build their nests in man-made forests planted with exotic species; they feed on new plant species introduced by humans[2]. They are also changing their behavior as a response to human disturbance: they engage in crop-raiding activities at night, when people are sleeping, although they are naturally active in the daytime[3].

Orangutan

But there is something that the orangutan species cannot adapt to and cannot sustain: hunting. These great apes are extremely low breeders with a young being produced once every six to eight years on average. Hunting for meat, to mitigate conflicts (e.g. to stop crops from being raided by orangutan) or for any other reason has always been and remains till today the major driving force of orangutan decline in Borneo[4].

Are orangutans doomed in Borneo? This does not have to be the case as orangutans are now recognized to survive in man-made as well as natural degraded landscapes. We need first to identify ways for people and orangutans to cohabit peacefully in non-protected forests. Conservation needs also to happen OUTSIDE of the network of protected forests. Establishing and maintaining patches and corridors of forests across a landscape transformed by man would go a long way to support orangutans and many other animal species. This downgrade in status is an urgent call to reconcile people and wildlife and to reinvent ways for people and orangutans to share the same environment.

All of us need to adhere to a new vision of our world, where people and animals share rather than compete for the same ecosystems and natural resources. This is possible, this is our choice. If we fail, orangutans may follow the ever-growing list of species “Extinct Species in the Wild”.

 

[1] http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/17975/0

[2] Ancrenaz et al., 2015. http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0030605313001270

[3] Hockings et al., 2015. http://www.borneofutures.org/articlespapers.html

[4] Abram et al., 2015. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/ddi.12286/abstract

Pokémon GO at the Houston Zoo

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If you need an excuse to get the kids outside (the kids, sure…), start a quest at the Zoo – we’re brimming with Pokémon!
Whether you’re an experienced trainer or new to Pokémon GO, the Zoo has its own gym (where app users train their Pokémon for battle) and more than 25 PokéStops (where app users go to pick up supplies) to help you up your game.
We’ve checked out where all the PokéStops are and confirmed that you can access all the Zoo’s Pokémon in public spaces. You can learn a lot about your favorite animals and see parallels with the app and some of the Pokémon look like animals we have here. So get outside, have fun, and #CatchThemAll!
If you want to beat the heat, the Houston Zoo is once again staying open late on Fridays this summer thanks to TXU Energy. The Zoo will be open until 8:30 p.m., last entry in at 7:30 p.m. This is a great time to come out and look at the animals in the cooler evening weather and a chance to catch some Pokémon!
The Zoo offers a safe place to play for kids and families alike, but for the safety of the animals, guest and app users, please be aware of signage around Zoo grounds and do not enter any restricted areas.
See below for Zoo ticket prices and hours:
Regular hours: 9 a.m. – 7 p.m., Last entry 6 p.m.
Friday 9 a.m. – 8:30 p.m., last entry in at 7:30 p.m
Zoo Member – Free
Children 1 and Under – Free
Children 2-11 – $13
Adults 12-64 – $17
Senior 65+ – $10.50

Penny checks out the building

Penny looks around the Animal Ambassador Building

Well.  This looks pretty nice in here.  I wonder who will be living in this room?  I have heard it is called the Ambassador Animal Building.

Look! Some of  the animals have started moving in!  Ernie the North American Porcupine is here.  So is Fiona the  Flemish Giant rabbit.  These guys are getting some really nice spaces to live in.  The building has room for all the Ambassador mammals and a whole separate room for the Ambassador reptiles.  There are going to be some amazing birds in here too.  A Kookaburra, some parrots and even a roadrunner.  Staff and volunteers can take these animals to classrooms, presentations and special events.

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Checking out the corner room

Just look at this corner room.  No one has moved in yet.  I could totally live here.  I could turn that space into a kitty paradise.  Oh, I am envisioning cat trees, toys, my own furniture.  Yes, I can see it now.

And look outside!  Is that our own exercise yard?  With a pool?  This building is amazing!

The Exercise Yard
The Exercise Yard

That settles it!  I am finding a way to move in.

9 Sea Turtles Visit the Houston Zoo for Medical Care

Over the past 2 days, our conservation partners at NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration)-Galveston brought 9 sea turtles to the Zoo’s vet clinic to receive medical care.

2 of the 9 sea turtles were loggerheads. These juvenile loggerheads were looked over by vet staff and given medications. They will be treated back to health at NOAA’s facility in Galveston.

6 of the 9 turtles were kemp’s ridleys. All 6 of these turtles were reported to NOAA because they were accidentally caught on recreational fishing hooks. Sea turtles will often eat bait from fishermen because it is an easy meal, however they can get caught and injured on the hooks and line. If reported by the public, like these turtles, the hooks can be removed and the turtles can be rehabilitated and released to the wild. NOAA was able to remove 3 of the hooks before arriving at the Zoo, 2 hooks were removed by Houston Zoo vet staff, and one turtle showed no signs of having an internal hook. Additionally, one of the hook and line turtles had small lesions on its’ flipper that were treated by the vet staff.

Kemp's ridley sea turtle visiting the Zoo's vet clinic to get x-rays to make sure there were no additional internal hooks.
Kemp’s ridley sea turtle visiting the Zoo’s vet clinic to get x-rays to make sure there were no additional internal hooks.
Kemp's ridley sea turtle getting x-rays at the Houston Zoo's vet clinic
Kemp’s ridley sea turtle getting x-rays at the Houston Zoo’s vet clinic.
Kemp's ridley sea turtle caught by accident on hook and line. This turtle is being prepped to have the hook removed.
Kemp’s ridley sea turtle caught by accident on hook and line. This turtle is being prepped to have the hook removed.
Hook removal in progress at the Houston Zoo's vet clinic.
Hook removal in progress at the Houston Zoo’s vet clinic.
Large hook successfully removed! This sea turtle will now be rehabilitated by the team of biologists at NOAA-Galveston.
Large hook successfully removed! This sea turtle will now be rehabilitated by the team of biologists at NOAA-Galveston.

The final turtle to be seen by medical staff today was a small green sea turtle that was found wedged between rocks on the beach. It appeared very tired and in need of medical care. Houston Zoo vet staff prescribed medication and the turtle will be rehabilitated by NOAA staff in Galveston until healthy enough to be released.

Green sea turtle found in rocks on upper Texas coast. If you see a sea turtle please report it by calling 1-866-TURTLE-5.
Green sea turtle found in rocks on upper Texas coast. If you see a sea turtle please report it by calling 1-866-TURTLE-5.

We are so fortunate to have sea turtles in our Texas waters, and it is easy for us to all be sea turtle conservation heroes! A few simple actions taken by our community can help protect sea turtles in the wild:

  1. If you accidentally catch a sea turtle while fishing, please call 1-866-TURTLE-5 so a biologist can come out and respond to the turtle-giving it adequate care and attention.
  2. Switch from plastic grocery bags to reusable grocery bags-our plastic bags are light and fly away easily. They can end up in our bayous and float to the ocean. Sea turtles mistake them for jellyfish, and when ingested can make them sick.
  3. If you eat seafood, choose ocean-friendly seafood! Download the FREE Seafood Watch app to use on your phone. It will help tell you what seafood is best to eat because it is caught or farmed in an ocean-friendly way that protects wildlife like sea turtles, dolphins, and sharks.
    1. Apple Store
    2. Google Play

For more ways to help save wildlife, visit our Take Action page!

Yellowstone Family Adventure with the Houston Zoo

The Houston Zoo just returned from leading our annual Yellowstone Family Adventure program, in partnership with Teton Science Schools. This program, started in 2015, is an opportunity for families to experience wildlife together and learn ways they can help protect wildlife in their daily lives.

During the 5-day program, we experienced lots of incredible things! This year we began the program by collecting data on a bird found in the Grand Tetons, the Clark’s Nutcracker. This birds’ population is decreasing because it is losing its’ main source of food-a nut from the whitebark pine tree. The whitebark pine tree is decreasing in this area because of many threats including the mountain pine beetle and white pine blister rust. So, both the bird and the pine tree need one another and it is important to scientists to collect data on both to help improve their populations.

Coming from the aerial tram on Rendezvous Peak and ready to collect data on birds!
We rode the aerial tram to arrive on Rendezvous Peak and collect data on birds!
A sample of our data collection on Clark's nutcrackers in the Grand Tetons.
A sample of our data collection on Clark’s nutcrackers in the Grand Tetons.

In addition to data collection to help with wildlife-saving efforts, we visited the Teton Raptor Center to learn about birds of prey in the area. That evening we took a float trip down the Snake River where we learned about otters, beavers, bald eagles, osprey, moose and more!

After a full day spent in the Grand Tetons, we drove to Yellowstone National Park where we spent 3 full days. There, we monitored water quality to see how the health of aquatic areas influences the health of wildlife.

Water quality testing near Yellowstone National Park.
Water quality testing near Yellowstone National Park.
Water quality testing near Yellowstone National Park.
Water quality testing near Yellowstone National Park.

We went on several hikes in the Park-viewing wildlife all along the way!

Trout Lake, Yellowstone National Park
Trout Lake, Yellowstone National Park
Here we watched a black bear near a stream, followed by a grizzly bear who appeared shortly after!
Here we watched a black bear near a stream, followed by a grizzly bear who appeared shortly after!
Kids on the program brought interactive workbooks to fill out as they spotted wildlife.
Kids on the program brought interactive workbooks to fill out as they spotted wildlife.
Yellowstone Family Adventure participants enjoying time in nature!
Yellowstone Family Adventure participants enjoying time in nature!

During our program we saw a variety of species. The program was uniquely special this year as the National Parks Service celebrated its’ 100 year anniversary, and Yellowstone National Park was the first national park in the U.S.!

One of the highlights of our program included a morning watching a wolf pack. The pack included 8 pups, which is quite amazing! Through a scope we watched the pups play with their older siblings and parents. Wolves were reintroduced into Yellowstone in 1995 after being gone for more than 60 years. While watching the wolves, we had the opportunity to discuss the history of Yellowstone’s wolves with Rick McIntyre, a wildlife biologist who has worked with wolves for more than 20 years in the Park.

Observing wolves in the wild and discussing wolf history in Yellowstone with biologist, Rick McIntyre.
Observing wolves in the wild and discussing wolf history in Yellowstone with biologist, Rick McIntyre.
Observing Yellowstone's wolves through a scope.
Observing Yellowstone’s wolves through a scope.

In addition to plenty of wildlife viewing, we also learned about the unique geological history of Yellowstone, including the hydrothermal features (geysers, hot springs, fumaroles, travertine terraces and mudpots!). More than 10,000 hydrothermal features are found in Yellowstone alone-an astounding number!

Visiting Old Faithful-one of the most iconic geysers in the world!
Visiting Old Faithful-one of the most iconic geysers in the world!

We had a wonderful time in nature, learning about and experiencing wildlife in one of our most famous national parks. In addition to participating in citizen science, we also discussed some of the actions we could take to help the wildlife we were so fortunate to see. Two of the main actions include:

  • Switch from plastic bags to reusable bags at the grocery store to decrease the plastic that ends up in our rivers/streams/oceans. Animals like otters can become entangled in plastics or ingest them thinking they are food. Help save otters by using less plastic bags!
  • Purchase toilet paper and paper towels from companies that use 100% recycled content. Animals like black bears and grizzly bears depend on trees, and trees provide us with paper! By purchasing paper products made with recycled content, we can help protect the homes of bears.

Of course, you don’t have to visit Yellowstone to save wildlife. Making small changes in your daily life to help protect wildlife is possible at anytime, anywhere! If you are interested in Taking Action to save wildlife, find out more here. If you’d like to travel with the Houston Zoo, please visit our travel page here.

Houston Zoo Family Adventure in Yellowstone!
Houston Zoo Family Adventure in Yellowstone!
*All photos courtesy of Teton Science Schools.

Be the Eyes on Your Bay!

Written by Kim Sharkey

sharkey 1Houston Zoo staff are frequently offered opportunities to take part in local conservation. One such opportunity is the Houston Zoo’s partnership with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Staff are given the chance to go out on patrol with a member of NOAA and conduct sea turtle surveys. I was lucky enough to have the chance June 1, 2016. Most of the day was spent in the survey truck driving up and down Galveston’s coast looking for stranded sea turtles. It was slightly cloudy and stormy due to the recent rainfall we have been experiencing recently. Such conditions are perfect for nesting females looking to lay eggs in the nearby sandy dunes. Unfortunately that day we did not locate any stranded or nesting turtles. What we found instead was the remains of the previous Memorial Day weekend. Visitors can leave trash and pollution on the beach but it can also be washed up from nearby reservoirs and bayous only to be taken back out again by the currents. Trash directly affects water quality and the local wildlife such as the sea turtle. When I returned home I could not help but want to know what more I could do to lessen the footprint we leave on our local beaches. There are many simple ways that you can make a positive impact on your environment such as by using reusable bags and water bottles and by recycling.

Want to know how YOU can make a difference?

Here are two great ways to get more involved.

1. Be the Eyes on your Bay!

sharkey 2Report pollution and trash to The Galveston Bay Foundation’s Action Network (GBAN) which allows you to make reports through their website or on your mobile device. The website contains an interactive GPS enabled map that pinpoint’s your exact location. The report is then sent on to the appropriate authorities in order for the situation to be resolved. It has never been easier to directly affect the health of your local beaches.

Use this handy tool created by @GBayFoundation to report #polluters for a clean & healthy #GalvestonBay! www.galvbay.org/GBAN

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2. Beach Clean up!

Host your own beach clean up party with a few of your friends or you can come and take part with Houston Zoo staff on July 16!

When: Saturday, July 16th from 8:00-10:00 a.m.

Where: Participants will be meeting along the seawall beside Pleasure Pier.

Pick up supplies will be provided, please bring your own reusable water bottle.

How: Interested parties can contact Shayla at sandreas@houstonzoo.org.

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