The Houston Zoo cares deeply for Texas wildlife. We are committed to ensuring the recovery and protection of local species and habitats. We take great pride in our efforts to rehabilitate/assist wild animals and reintroduce zoo-born animals to the wild. This blog series will keep you up-to-date on our 3 local recovery projects:
The Attwater’s prairie chicken is the rarest native Texas bird. 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. The Houston Zoo has treated over 100 sea turtles since 2010 in our vet clinic. The turtles 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.
Th Houston toad program began in 2007 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.
Stay tuned this spring as we update you on these local efforts to put species back into their homes in the Texas wild!