The Houston Zoo loves its elephants on-grounds and in the wild!

Elephants live nearby the local villages of Niassa Reserve.

The Zoo loves its elephants and wants to do everything we can to protect them in the wild. Zoo staff work 7 days a week to take care of our elephants on-grounds, and our staff also helps to support partners in the field who are working to save wild elephants.

One of our amazing stories from the field is from our friend, Mbumba, who works with our partners at Niassa Carnivore Project. Mbumba is currently pursuing his education and his thesis project is the very definition of conservation: the Niassa Beehive Fence Project.

The Niassa Beehive Fence Project uses beehive fences (that’s right! A string of beehives about 10 m apart from each other surround crop land) to naturally deter elephants. You can imagine how unpleasant it is to have a swarm of bees chasing after you, and well, just because an elephant is big doesn’t mean it wants that kind of attention! When elephants get near cropland to have a snack, local villages can get pretty displeased that all their hard farm work has been destroyed! To help alleviate the tensions between people and elephants these fences will humanely keep elephants away, and they even provide some tasty honey to sell for profit!

Everyone working together to build a beehive fence. Once the beehive is jostled by an elephant, their buzz sounds as a warning!
Everyone working together to build a beehive fence. Once the beehive is jostled by an elephant, their buzz sounds as a warning!


Niassa_Mbamba Boy guarding Machamba - photo taken By Agostinho. Everyone spends a lot of time this season protecting there crops from baboons, elephants, warthogs and bushpigs.
Mbamba Boy guarding Machamba. Everyone spends a lot of time this season protecting there crops from baboons, elephants, warthogs and bushpigs.

Conservation is not just about helping animals and the environment…remember that people work with animals and live in that same environment! The healthier the land and animals are, the better off people will be, as we need both to continue our existence. The Niassa Beehive Fence Project helps both people and wildlife in a humane and positive manner that creates a better future for both elephants and people!

Honey from the first harvest!
Honey from the first harvest!

Want to help out with saving elephants in the wild? Check out our elephant page for more information or to donate!

Join us in September and October as we highlight elephants in various events. Check back here and on our Facebook page to get more information as the events come closer.

A Future for Elephants online auction : September 9 – October 1

Houston Zoo Elephant Open House : September 21

Conservation Gala featuring Dr. Iain Douglas-Hamilton of Save the Elephants : October 9


A Winter Wonderland of Wildlife in Yellowstone…come with us!

Travel with the Zoo during February 1-6, 2014 and find yourself among some pretty amazing animals and journeying through a fantastic adventure!



The Winter Wonderland of Wildlife Yellowstone trip will take you on a private tour through Grand Teton National Park, the National Elk Refuge, and Yellowstone. You’ll have plenty of wildlife viewing, but some special viewing encounters including a sleighing adventure to get a closer look at some of the animals among an almost crystalline landscape!


The tour travels through multiple parks, and you’ll find yourself sleeping in the cozy Old Faithful Snow Lodge in Yellowstone getting ready for a day full of geothermal features and geological inspirations among the beautiful wildlife…quite a nice setting for a photo or two, no?


Search for the elusive gray wolves in private safari-style vehicles and breathe in the crispness of this brisk winter wonderland of wildlife. At the end of it all, you can relax in Chico Hot Springs and share stories of how you finally got that perfect shot, or how you practically tasted the geyser…or how you’ve forgotten how tasty hot chocolate is at the end of a day of adventurin’ !


Learn more at our Travel with the Zoo page !

Reserve Your Space Today:

Contact Renee Bumpus or 713-533-6881


We're releasing Attwater's prairie chickens into the wild!


We’ve been raising these adorable chicks for the past few months, and for some of them, they’ve already gotten big enough to be ready to start their life in the wild.

In the picture below, you can see the same bird on 4/22 and on 7/16. This juvenile looks a lot like a fully grown Attwater’s prairie chicken (APC), but is about 2/3 the size of an adult.



We have released 37 chicks so far in three release events since June and are looking forward to another release coming up next week, followed by at least two more releases in August!

We’ll keep an eye on these guys individually as they grow in the wild by recording their actions through radio collars and fancy foot jewelry (identification tags).


We wish them a great life in their natural habitat in the wild, and hope they feel comfortable enough to have some chicks of their own!



The Houston Zoo is saving (more) sea turtles!

Zoo vet staff has rescued another sea turtle today and already removed two fishing hooks from inside his throat! You can see the two hooks in the x-ray photo, and the photo that follows is of Dr. Joe getting ready to remove those hooks.

Kemp’s Ridley X-Ray with two hooks.

How did this guy get two hooks in him? Well, he’s actually had more than that. This guy came to us with tags that you can see in the final photo below. The tags mean that we’ve come across this guy before, and though hooks are not the only reason for an emergency visit, his specific numbers showed that he was with us in 2011 for the same issue.

It is likely that this instance of double hooks came about after he grabbed one meal from a fishing line, was cut free, and then tried to grab another snack later on and was thankfully alerted to NOAA Galveston. Often, sea turtles are released back into the ocean after the fishing line has been cut. Though this releases turtles back seemingly unharmed, these hooks do not pass through the body or deteriorate, which more often than not causes fatalities in these amazing creatures.

Dr. Joe beginning the hook removal.

So, if you see a sea turtle accidentally caught on the beach, just call 1-866-TURTLE-5 and NOAA will come out to grab that turtle and bring it to us. Though there are no repercussions for accidentally catching a sea turtle, there is enforcement if fisherman purposely keep sea turtles. Be aware, and be a Conservation Hero!

Kemp’s Ridley identification tags. You can even get a reward if you call…and can read very dirty things!

We've got an elephant talk happening this week!

Dr. Sukumar will be showing off his brand new book, The Story of Asia’s Elephants, and speaking on how the relationships between Asiatic elephants and people have changed over time.

Come on down to the Asia Society Texas Center on Thursday July 18 at 6:30PM to hear Dr. Sukumar wow us all with stories from his experiences and what he has learned from studying the interactions between elephants and culture in Asia. You’ll be able to purchase his new book, or simply listen to some great history and knowledge!

Learn more about the event:

Houston Zoo staff is saving sea turtles!

Two sea turtles were brought to the Houston Zoo for medical treatment this morning. Zoo staff removed a hook from a Kemp’s Ridley and a loggerhead received an exam!

Kemp’s Ridley preparing for X-Ray.
Kemp’s Ridley on the X-Ray table.
Dr. Joe preparing to take the hook out of the Kemp’s Ridley.
Hook removed from Kemp’s Ridley.

Attwater's prairie chicks getting upgrades!

Today some of our Attwater’s chicks had their first vet exam! Afterwards, they received upgraded bands because they are growing so fast. When born, the chicks only weigh about 17 grams (on average). Once they graduate to 50 grams, they receive their veterinarian exam in preparation for release to a larger outdoor area. Below, you can see one of our chicks showing off his new jewelry in his new home!

Attwater’s prairie chick with his new bling!

Check out the Houston Zoo Texas Conservation page to learn more about the Attwater’s prairie chicken or to make a contribution.

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