Endangered Species Day

Endangered Species Day is an opportunity for people of all ages to learn about the importance of protecting endangered species as well as everyday actions they can take to help protect them. The Houston Zoo, and other AZA-accredited institutions around the world, have united to bring awareness to the global conservation effort to save endangered species and their habitats in the wild.

What makes a species endangered? According to the International Union for Conservation in Nature (IUCN)

An Endangered species is a species which has been categorized by the IUCN Red List as likely to become extinct. “Endangered” is the second most severe conservation status for wild populations in the IUCN’s schema after Critically Endangered.

We have a number of endangered species at the Houston Zoo and some of them might be your favorite animals! Did you know Asian elephants, orangutans, and gorillas are all endangered? The Zoo’s Conservation team works with 30 conservation partners in 16 different countries to help these animals and others including the Grevy’s zebra, shark and ray species, cheetahs, and more! Global partners use our conservation resources for funding, business development, and even event planning to connect their local cultures to the animals they’re trying to save.

In addition to our global conservation efforts, the Houston Zoo works diligently to help three local species and increase their chances of long-term survival.

toadLocal conservation projects happen behind-the-scenes at the Houston Zoo where dedicated keepers work with these animals daily to increase their numbers in the wild. One such animal is the Attwater’s prairie chicken. This dynamic bird used to call the plains of Texas home, but now only about 100 exist in the wild. The good news is, 362 eggs are currently being incubated to raise and release back into the wild thanks to the amazing bird department here at the Zoo!

A mature, male Attwater’s prairie chicken at the Attwater’s Prairie Chicken National Wildlife Refuge.

The juvenile birds are released at the Attwater’s Prairie Chicken National Wildlife Refuge to grow to maturity and repopulate the area. Last year 176 chickens were released!

Similarly, the Houston toad is no longer in Houston, but its numbers are growing thanks to the work of the Herpetology department and volunteers at the Zoo. The Herpetology department at the Houston Zoo currently has 700,000 eggs ready to be released in the Bastrop area. In 2015 they released 600,000 eggs in cases that protect the fragile eggs until they become tadpoles.

Local wildlife like the critically endangered Houston toad can benefit when we reuse water.
Local wildlife like the critically endangered Houston toad can benefit when we reuse water.

So far, 2016 has been a successful year thanks to those 600,000 eggs. In past years, mating calls of Houston Toads have been scarce, but were more prominent this year. A very good sign for long-term sustainability!

Finally, the Zoo partners with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to help save sea turtles in the Gulf of Mexico. Our veterinarians provided medical care for 124 turtles in 2015 and 17 in 2016 to-date.

A common green sea turtle rehabs in the Houston Zoo Kipp Aquarium.

All five species of sea turtle – Kemp’s ridley, green, loggerhead, leatherback, and hawksbill – found in the Gulf are endangered.

What can you do to help?

Attwater’s prairie chicken 

A male Attwater's prairie chicken
A male Attwater’s prairie chicken

Come to the Zoo! Each time you visit, a portion of your ticket goes towards our conservation programs – including the Attwater’s prairie chicken!

Houston toad 

Recycle your old batteries. Batteries leak harmful chemicals into waterways when they aren’t disposed of properly. Since amphibians, like the Houston toad, have sensitive skin that absorbs the environment around them, recycling batteries will help keep them healthy!

Sea turtle 

Keep an eye out for green sea turtles who often wash up "cold stunned" during these sudden temperature drops. Call 1-866-TURTLE-5 to report a sighting of a cold stunned turtle.
Keep an eye out for green sea turtles who often wash up “cold stunned” during these sudden temperature drops. Call 1-866-TURTLE-5 to report a sighting of a cold stunned turtle.

Use a reusable bag when you go shopping. Single-use plastic bags are often confused by sea turtles as sea jellies – one of their favorite foods! Using a reusable bag when you go to the store will keep these single-use bags out of the environment and keep sea turtles out of harm’s way.

Want to know more about what you can do to help save animals in the wild? TAKE ACTION

Year of the Monkey: May

Written by Abby Varela

Pygmy marm 4Last month we talked about mandrills, the largest monkeys… this month we are featuring pygmy marmosets the smallest monkey in the world. Adult pygmy marmosets weigh 120-170 grams (about the weight of a baseball), while newborns can weigh around 11 grams, which is the equivalent of two nickels! They are a new world monkey, found in the rainforest, along the Amazon basin in Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Bolivia and are strictly diurnal, meaning they are only active in the daytime.

These tiny monkeys are considered mature at the age of 15 to 17 months and live in family groups ranging anywhere from 2 to 15 individuals.  In these groups, all the males help care for offspring by taking turns carrying when the infants are not being fed by the dam (mom). The sire (dad) of the group is often times the last to eat, as he is very watchful while everyone else eats, to be sure that there are no threats around. Pygmy marmosets can turn their heads 180 degrees to help watch for predators and can leap as far as 15 feet! They also have claw-like nails as opposed to flat nails to assist them in climbing and running across trees and vines. Additionally, their teeth are specially designed to help them tear into trees so they can eat the sap from them. When the group is comfortable and feels safe, they can be seen foraging, basking, grooming each other and even adults play with each other and juveniles at times. Pymy marm 2

Here at the Houston Zoo, they rotate on exhibit in the Indoor Rainforest Exhibit in the Natural Encounters building. We currently have two females that spend a lot of time with our golden lion tamarin pair. You might even be able to catch them basking in the sun together, playing, or grooming each other!

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Houston Zoo Facebook Page

Social Media Guy to Sea Lion Keeper: Can you send me a pic of you working with the sea lions in this chilly weather?

Sea Lion Keeper: Sure... (sends picture next to sea lion statue)

SMG: I'm still using this.
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Social Media Guy to Sea Lion Keeper: Can you send me a pic of you working with the sea lions in this chilly weather?

Sea Lion Keeper: Sure... (sends picture next to sea lion statue)

SMG: Im still using this.

 

Comment on Facebook

Are there some zoo animals that enjoy this weather?

SMG is another reason why Houston Zoo is the best Zoo!

Are we positive that’s the statue rather than it really just being that cold? 😛

More snow for TJ and Max ❤️ lucky them!

That’s my best friend Sophie for ya! 😂

Brrrrr

Omg the Zoo is so awesome 😂😂😂 Alana Berry

Omg be warm sweetoe

Haha!! Good one!

Sweetie 💞

Ashley Jucker 😂

Mike DePope

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We've heard of stalagmites but is stalagmice a thing? ... See MoreSee Less

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Weve heard of stalagmites but is stalagmice a thing?

 

Comment on Facebook

Ok, it took me a minute to get this. I was literally zooming in to try to find the mouse. 🤦🏻‍♀️🙄😂

Cindy Christina Angela Ramirez see I told y’all! Lol

I fell for the mouse thing too..

“Baby it’s cold outside!”

That's nothing! Talk to keepers from the northern states or Canada!

i was honestly looking for a mouse lol

Johnnie R. Summerlin, cool, see the "stalagm ice"?

Wow,that is so neat!

Annecia Wesley but where is the ice bacon? Lol

Two words. Pipe insulation.

That’s awesome!

Ana Rivers Smith cool!

Cortez

Pauline Ervin

Denise Daigre

Ashley Nguyen

Vicente Gonzalez

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Brrrr. It’s cold out there! We have made the decision to close the Houston Zoo tomorrow, Wednesday, Jan. 17. Don’t worry, the animals are safe and warm in their night houses!

A limited number of staff from departments like Animal Programs, Safety and Security and Operations/Facilities will be onsite to perform essential services and have the Zoo ready for us to reopen Thursday morning.

A big ol' high-five to our awesome team members who braved this icy cold to come in and care for our animals and zoo facilities.
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Comment on Facebook

Safety and welfare of the animals first! Thanks guys for all you do.

Yes thank you for everything yall do to keep the animals safe .. y'all keep safe and warm

Thank you for taking good care of our animals!

Thank u for keeping those Babies safe and warm!❤️

Thank you for all you do!

Thank you for ZOO LIGHTS. it was amazing this year!

Thank you, zoo team. Stay safe!

Mandy Rinker— really? Too cold? You’re from the Midwest girl

💙

thank you for all you do and keep the furry babies warm

Ty

Thank you for taking care of our precious animals that we love to come see!

Thank you for keeping those beautiful animals safe. 💕

Thank you for making sure the animals are safe and warm.

Thank you for all you do for these amazing animals!!

Go, Erika!!!

Thank you 💕

💖

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