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

Golden-headed Lion Tamarins: “Golden Opportunity”

By Amy Berting and Nina Russo

Photos by Stephanie Adams

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Don’t miss out on this golden opportunity to see the zoo’s newest primates, Marcos and Maya!  The twin golden-headed lion tamarins came to us from Brevard Zoo and brought the Florida sunshine with them!

Golden-headed lion tamarins are one of four species of lion tamarins and are located in Wortham World of Primates.  You can see a second species, the golden lion tamarins, in the Natural Encounters building here at the zoo!  While very similar in shape and size, these two species differ a little in color.  Golden-headed lion tamarins are predominantly black with golden hair around their face, tail, feet, and hands.  Golden lion tamarins are almost completely gold in color.

These primates can be found in the tropical rainforests of Brazil.  A life in the tree tops produced the adaptation of claws instead of flat nails like humans have. These sharp nails at the end of their fingers are perfect for clinging to trees.

In the wild a golden-headed lion tamarin’s diet mainly consists of fruit, flowers, and insects.  They use their long, skinny fingers to extract sap and insects from trees and have also been known to opportunistically eat small birds and lizards.

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Like most primates, golden-headed lion tamarins are very social.  They live in groups consisting of 2-11 individuals. Twinning is typical for this species and our brother/sister pair is a perfect example.  Twins sure do sound like a lot of work! Fortunately, these mothers have lots of help.  Other members of the group take turns carrying and babysitting the babies.

What is all that screaming about?  When you visit the zoo you may hear high-pitched trills and whines coming from these small creatures.  These tamarins use a variety of different sounds to communicate things such as greetings, danger, and locating food.

Golden-headed lion tamarins also communicate using smells.  They have scent glands which they use to mark their territory and pathways to food sources.  Individuals can be identified by one another based on their scent. Can you sniff out your friends?

July’s Featured Members: The Singh 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 Zoo Members that deserve recognition. We’re thrilled to introduce you to July’s Featured Members: The Singh family!


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We asked the Singh family what being Zoo Members means to them and here’s what they had to say, “We feel fortunate to live in a sprawling metropolis like Houston. Having a zoo in the city helps A LOT especially when two of our three kids want to be zoo keepers when they grow up and third one most likely will want do the same once he begins to speak for himself! Right now he is supposed to be a doctor or engineer because parents want him to be (missing the opportunity on the first two) one.

We are also Zoo Members because as a Member, we can wake up and decide to come to the Zoo at a moments’ notice. We have been Zoo Members for about three years now.

We have three children, Gahan (7), Aarya (5) and Maneet (1).  Gahan’s favorite animal is the giraffe because giraffes are the tallest animal in the world. The elephant is Maneet’s favorite animal because it is dad’s favorite animal and because he is too young to decide. Finally Aarya’s favorite animal depends upon the day of week, month, temperature, season of the year and if she had a miff with one of her brothers or both.

We also like special Zoo events. An exciting part of Houston’s Zoo is there is always some new exhibit or activity going on throughout the year. The new gorilla exhibit is really amazing and a must-see whenever we visit. The kids love to watch elephants eat breakfast and take a bath in the morning too. When it gets hot, the kid’s water splash area is an added plus!

llIn addition to all of these advantages, the Houston Zoo is surrounded by a beautiful lake and park. The kids love to go on a boat and train ride on their way out of the Zoo. While we are at the Zoo, depending on time and day, sometimes we get the opportunity to feed pigeons too!

Normally the entire family comes with lunch. Sometime the kids like to come to the Zoo with their friends mostly once a month or sooner if there are special events or activities. Our favorite activities are Zoo Boo and Member Mornings.

We love the Zoo and feel that animals are well cared for at the zoo. The Zoo has an attractive range of animals, organizes special events and always adding to new attractions.”


From all of us here at the Houston Zoo, we want to say thank you to the Singh family, 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!

Three Tiny Bush Vipers at Houston Zoo

By: Jackie Wallace

13415660_10154349183977526_1128220140336758444_oThis spring, three tiny green bush vipers were born on March 26. Like most pit vipers, the neonates were born live instead of hatched from eggs like many other types of snakes. Originally a part of a group of six, only three have survived and have doubled in weight since their birth. They are expected to grow to be between 18-24 inches long. Despite their name, green bush vipers vary in color, mostly shades of green, but can also be bright yellow or grey. These snakes are found in the tropical rainforests of western and central Africa and get their name from their preference for lower bushes rather than the tall canopy trees. Guests can see all kinds of exotic and local snakes in the zoo’s Reptile and Amphibian House. The baby snakes will remain behind-the-scenes while they continue to grow.

 

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Houston Zoo Participates in Marine Wildlife Protection Workshop

By: Martha Parker

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The Houston Zoo is currently in Argentina participating in a marine debris/wildlife protection workshop with friends from UC Davis Veterinary Medicine and the Buenos Aires Zoo. Before the workshop began, we visited a new recycling center that is committed to increasing recycling in a small town on the coast of Argentina. Recycling is not standard in every town,and this company is doing amazing things to decrease waste! This company currently has a landfill but they are hoping to move more materials into recycling. Since the community is not used to recycling yet,the company sorts all of the materials (separating trash, organic materials and recycling) by hand! They have even started their own compost pole. They hope that in the near future they will be able to get the community to sort their trash and recycling themselves. We were very fortunate to meet with the owner of this company, who also attended both days of the marine debris workshop.

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After visiting the recycling center we had one more day to prepare for the workshop before the nearly 50 attendees arrived. The workshop was held at Mundo Marino, which is a zoological facility that is committed to rehabilitating local wildlife in need such as penguins, fur seals and sea turtles! We were given a tour of the area where wild animals are rehabilitated before they could be released into the wild. This is a photo of a green sea turtle (a species that comes to our Texas waters!) who was hit by a boat most likely and is undergoing treatment before it can be released. We also saw penguins being cared for because of an interaction with oil, and fur seals who were orphaned and needing care as they cannot survive in the wild at this age without parental care.

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Houston Zoo Releases Sea Turtles Back into Gulf of Mexico

Release May 2016

On Thursday May 26, NOAA Fisheries and the Houston Zoo released nine sea turtles at Stewart Beach in Galveston, Texas surrounded by hundreds of onlookers.

Release May 2016

Six of the turtles are Kemp’s ridleys, the other three are loggerheads. All but one of the turtles suffered injuries related to fishing interactions when they were accidentally caught and swallowed fishing hooks.

Release May 2016

The degree of rehabilitation and length of stay at the NOAA sea turtle facility in Galveston varied, ranging from one week to nine months. Call 1-866-TURTLE-5 to report an injured sea turtle.

Release May 2016

A Closer Look at the African Painted Dogs

Dog Profiles:  by Samantha Junker

Join our pack for our 4th annual Dog Days of Summer Celebration at the Houston Zoo June 10 and 11 from 9:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. We’ll be offering special Meet the Keeper Talks*, enrichment demonstrations, and crafts for the kiddos. In anticipation for the event, we’ve assembled a short profile on our African painted dogs. Each one has their own unique personality. Take a look!


Blaze “The Pirate”

Blaze

Blaze is currently the oldest male painted dog in the country at 14 years old. While he seems to enjoy the company of the new females, their antics sometimes appear to be too much for him and he would much rather nap in the shade away from the ruckus they are making.  The most vocal dog in the pack, Blaze frequently “barks” out his orders at his keepers and demands his food when he wants it and where he wants it.


Mikita “The Alpha”

African Wild DogsMikita is the nephew to Blaze and the leader of our pack. He is the peacekeeper and protector, making sure the young girls don’t play too rough with Blaze.  Once the first dog to approach trainers when called, he has made it perfectly clear that he enjoys the company of the new females more than his keepers.  He will look at us as we call his name for feeding and then walk away to lie down next to one of the girls until they decide to come inside too.


Amara “The Gazelle”

AmaraAmara’s name means “grace” and she has proven it fitting as she leaps like a little gazelle through the grass.  She is easily excitable, especially for food, and will often leap in the air on all four legs to show her delight.  Even at 3 years old, Amara is the leader of the new females and will often call to them to ensure they are nearby and haven’t wandered off.  She is definite proof that big personalities come in small packages.


Ghost “The Brave One”

GhostEvery pack needs a warrior and Ghost is definitely ours.  She is usually the first to charge into any new situation or investigate any new toy, though she will often look to Amara for guidance.  She feels she has to be involved in every situation and will sometimes interrupt training sessions with other dogs to make herself known.  Ghost is easily identified by the white patches with two black spots (eyes) on each shoulder that look like little ghosts.


Akilah “The Obstinate”

AkilahAkilah definitely marches to the beat of her own drum. She does what she wants when she wants and if that doesn’t coincide with her keepers’ plans, then so be it! She is also very tenacious when she feels one of the other dogs has something better than she does.  Her keepers were amazed as she stole a bone right under Mikita’s nose, watched him as he selected another one, stole the second bone, and started her own cache with a third and fourth.


*Meet the Keeper Talks are generously sponsored by Phillips 66.

Shark conservationist receives education training at the Houston Zoo

 

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Shark conservationist, Alerick Pacay, Program Coordinator at Fundación Mundo Azul, a non-profit conservation organization, based in Guatemala, received conservation and education training at the Houston Zoo.  Alerick had participated in a video conservation messaging workshop Houston Zoo staff held in Belize last year for marine conservation organizations.  He and his organization,  reached out to Houston Zoo staff when he learned more about the Houston Zoo’s conservation and education programming.

IMG_2742Fundación Mundo Azul main goal is to protect the ocean.  Alerick works with local fishermen to monitor the 30 species of sharks in Guatemala and spends much of his time inspiring visitors to the Guatemala Zoo and local communities about the importance of protecting sharks.  He educates his audiences about the importance of sharks and other wildlife in the ocean and how they can save this wildlife by reducing their plastic use.  Plastic and other trash in the oceans is one of the biggest threats to marine life.

The training he received provided him with the knowledge to increase his impact with his audiences.  Our staff also learned a tremendous amount from Fundación Mundo Azul’s programs.

Along with training at the Zoo, he also got to accompany our staff and our partners at NOAA in some sea turtle protection work in the wild.  He assisted with rescuing a very big loggerhead sea turtle in Galveston.

We are so grateful for all of the work Fundación Mundo Azul and Alerick are doing  to protect our oceans and save marine animals.  Alerick would like all readers to know that you can help us all save animals like sharks by saying no to straws.  Millions of straws end up in the oceans and they can be harmful to marine animals when they mistaken them for food.  You can purchase medal straws here http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/B00KGIANQ2/ref=mp_s_a_1_1?qid=1463519716&sr=81&pi=SY200_QL40&keywords=metal+straws&dpPl=1&dpID=413ApCH1pZL&ref=plSrch and carry one with you, if you don’t want to go without.IMG_2793

New Girls in Town! African Painted Dogs

New Girls in Town!

Three female African painted dogs have crossed the pond and joined our two bachelors to make a pack of five! Amara, Ghost, and Akilah, formerly from a zoo in the United Kingdom, were introduced to Blaze and Mikita late April.  Their keepers have been enjoying seeing the new pack and how the boys appear to be enjoying the company of the new ladies!

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From left to right: Ghost, Akilah, and Amara

With a larger pack comes a different challenge for keepers.  Carnivore keepers at the Houston Zoo work “protected contact” with the painted dogs.  This means that we do not go into their habitat unless they have “shifted” or moved into their bedrooms and the door is secure.  We usually call our carnivores into their bedrooms every morning and serve them breakfast before going outside to clean.  The dogs have discovered that they can send in a few “scouts” to quickly grab some treats and bring them back into the habitat for the rest of the pack!

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Ghost and Akilah greet Mikita

Each girl is starting to show her own personality and it is fun seeing the boys react to their antics.  We will be highlighting our new females on the zoo blog in the weeks to come in order to usher in our 4th annual Dog Days of Summer Celebration!  Please come join our pack Friday June 10 and Saturday June 11 from 9AM-2PM for keeper interactions, enrichment demonstrations, and free kids’ crafts!

 

Texas, Our Texas! Wildlife Spotlight on Species Event

Contortionist SMCome out to the Houston Zoo and show off your Texas pride this Friday and Saturday, May 20th and 21st. We will be hosting a Native Texas Wildlife Spotlight on Species event highlighting and showcasing just some of Texas’s own native species living at the zoo. Here you can participate in fun activities, learn cool facts, watch training demonstrations, and much more! Activities are free with admission!

Don’t forget to check out Houston Urban Wildlife Facebook page where you can learn more about your creepy crawling friends or get more information about an animal you may have spotted in your backyard or even on your last hike.  By downloading your pictures to their page they will help to properly identify and give some fun facts about our native species.

So come on out to the Houston Zoo and show off your Texas pride and spirit by supporting your native Texas wildlife!

Carnivore Keeper Chats: Both days Friday May 20th and Saturday May 21st

10:00AM- Jaguar keeper chat

11:30AM-Black Bear enrichment toss/keeper chat

1:00PM-Ocelot Chat

2:00PM-Cougar training session/keeper chat

10:30AM and 1:45PM- Meet some animals up close!

Children’s Zoo Keeper Chats:

Friday, May 20th:

10:00 Bobcat Chat at exhibit

10:30 North American Porcupine Chat in Texas Plaza

2:30 North American River Otter Chat at exhibit

10:30, 11:30, and 12:30 Front Entry chats featuring native species.

Saturday, May 21st:

10:30 Swift Fox Chat at exhibit

1:15 Harris Hawk in the Texas Plaza

2:30 Bobcat Chat at exhibit

Bird Keeper Chats:

Both days Friday May 20th and Saturday May 21st

1:30 PM-Pelican Feeding

Horticulture Keeper Chats:

I'm Not Doing Anything SM

Friday May 20th

10AM and 1PM-Butterfly garden/native carnivorous plants chat

Saturday May 21st

10AM and 12PM- Butterfly garden/native carnivorous plants chat

Carnivore Keeper Chats: Both days Friday May 20th and Saturday May 21st

10:00AM- Jaguar keeper chat

11:30AM-Black Bear enrichment toss/keeper chat

1:00PM-Ocelot Chat

2:00PM-Cougar training session/keeper chat

10:30AM and 1:45PM- Meet some animals up close!

Children’s Zoo Keeper Chats:

Friday, May 20th:

10:00 Bobcat Chat at exhibit

10:30 North American Porcupine Chat in Texas Plaza

2:30 North American River Otter Chat at exhibit

10:30, 11:30, and 12:30 Front Entry chats featuring native species.

Saturday, May 21st:

10:30 Swift Fox Chat at exhibit

1:15 Harris Hawk in the Texas Plaza

2:30 Bobcat Chat at exhibit

Bird Keeper Chats: Both days Friday May 20th and Saturday May 21st

1:30 PM-Pelican Feeding

Horticulture Keeper Chats:

Friday May 20th

10AM and 1PM-Butterfly garden/native carnivorous plants chat

Saturday May 21st

10AM and 12PM- Butterfly garden/native carnivorous plants chat

Jaguar

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