Christmas Treecycling

Written by Amber Zelmer


Now that we have stuffed ourselves silly for Thanksgiving, people are putting up their Christmas decorations & getting into the holiday spirit! Many people might be wondering whether to choose a real or artificial tree for their household this year. You may be surprised to learn that using a real Christmas tree can be a better choice for the environment than an artificial tree!

The benefit of artificial trees, is that they don’t need to be watered and are able to be reused year after year. However, most artificial trees are used for less than 4 years before they are thrown out. There are almost no facilities that recycle artificial trees and they can take up to 500 years to break down in a landfill! Most artificial trees are manufactured overseas in China or Korea & must be shipped for sale here in the U.S. According to Audubon magazine, you would have to keep an artificial tree for at least 20 years before it would be a better alternative than the real deal.

Christmas tree farms in the U.S. are a more sustainable source for your holiday tree. It can take a pine tree around 7 years to grow to a harvestable size. During the time it is growing, the tree is providing a habitat for migratory birds & other native wildlife. These trees are also producing oxygen & sequestering carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

If you are wondering how to dispose of your natural Christmas tree after the holidays there are many ways that you can use the tree to keep benefitting the environment! Many communities offer drop off sites for your old trees & may use them to help prevent erosion by creating barriers along beaches to help preserve sand dunes. The City of Houston offers an annual Christmas tree recycling program and will pick up trees and turn them into mulch or, if you have the space, you can mulch it yourself and use it in your garden or landscaping. Make sure to check online to see which day your neighborhood is collecting trees for the program. When recycling your tree, you must remove all ornaments, decorations, lights, tinsel & tree stands; flocked trees cannot be recycled. If you are not a resident of Houston proper, be sure to check online for local sites that are participating in tree recycling programs or repurposing used trees.

This holiday season we can all be a little more green!

Recycle Holiday Lights to help Save Animals in the Wild

Recycle your holiday string lights here and help save animals in the wild! Recycling keeps items out of landfills. Less space for landfills means more space for animals! A recycling bin is located at the Zoo’s main entrance. Only string lights will be accepted for recycling; please do not bring other items such as flood lights, extension cords or light hooks.

The collection bin will be open through the last day of Zoo Lights on January 14.


A bobcat, like the ones you are saving by recycling your holiday lights.

It may not feel like winter, but the holidays are almost here and with that comes the task of putting up your holiday lights. This task comes with many issues, what if you put them up and they don’t work? What if they have gone out of style? What if they just use too much energy and you want to buy LED lights instead?

If you are having any of these issues or other issues and need a place to dispose of your old or broken string lights you can bring them to the Houston Zoo to recycle! Recycling holiday lights keeps them out of landfills. Less space for landfills means more space for animals, animals like bobcats, deer, and the Texas State Small Mammal, the armadillo.

Recycle your holiday string lights in this bin, located at the Houston Zoo’s main entrance.

You can bring your holiday string lights to the main entrance of the Houston Zoo until January 14. Simply place them in the bin that says, “Recycle your holiday lights here and help save animals in the wild!” We will make sure they are responsibly recycled and you can enjoy your holidays knowing that you helped save animals in the wild!

With your help, the Houston Zoo has recycled more than 7,486 pounds of holiday lights to date. This is nearly the same weight as a female Asian elephant!

Domestic Dogs to Protect Painted Dogs

In a previous blog you met Enoch Zulu, a Wildlife Warrior from Painted Dog Conservation. As a part of his Wildlife Warrior award, he traveled to another conservation project to learn more about wildlife protection techniques. There, he was inspired by the use of domestic dogs assisting anti-poaching teams in finding snares and poachers.

Upon his return to Painted Dog Conservation, he set about to create a domestic dog anti-poaching program. Zulu is now managing a K9 unit to help his anti-poaching team be more effective in protecting wildlife. 2 anti-poaching team members recently trained with domestic dogs to be used in their new program. The Houston Zoo is supporting this new K9 unit by providing funding for their dog assistance facility.

Every time you visit the Houston Zoo, you are supporting Zulu and the Painted Dog Conservation project, as a portion of every ticket and membership goes to saving animals in the wild.

 

Celebrate World Okapi Day with Us!

Written by Mary Fields


 You love okapis? So do we! That’s why the Houston Zoo is celebrating World Okapi Day with a Spotlight on Species!

Our SOS will be from 10:00am-3:00pm this Wednesday, October 18th, in front of the okapi exhibit by our new elephant habitat.

The Houston Zoo is a supporter of the Okapi Conservation Project that helps preserve okapis in the wild. Okapis are an endangered species that, despite their zebra-like stripes, are actually related to giraffes! The main reason that okapis are endangered is habitat loss due to illegal mining in the Ituri Forest. What are they mining? Primarily coltan for cell phones, tablets and other handheld devices.

How can you help? It’s easy, you can help by recycling your old cell phones and other handheld electronic devices at the Houston Zoo and by visiting our SOS!

We will also be having a raffle that you can enter for paintings made by our very own male okapi, Kwame. You can enter the raffle by either donating an old cell phone or money that will go to the Okapi Conservation Project. So, come hang out with us, our okapis and help support okapis this Wednesday! We hope to see you there!

Gorilla Doctors Train at the Houston Zoo

Two veterinarians, Dr. Ricky and Dr. Fred, from the Gorilla Doctor project in Uganda visited the Houston Zoo last week to train with our Vet Clinic staff. Drs. Ricky and Fred, along with the other Gorilla Doctors, are first responders for gorillas in the wild, providing house calls in the forest.

The training with our staff in a clinic setting, with a variety of animals they would never see otherwise, was a new and invaluable experience for them. Dr. Fred found the visit “very rewarding to learn new techniques and appreciating the usual ones in a much more participatory way.”

Drs. Fred and Ricky had a full week, including a routine exam on a cougar and a trip to Galveston to see our local conservation work with sea turtle rehabilitation, with the added surprise of getting to help NOAA release two sea turtles. A big moment in their visit was a personal and transformative meeting with a rattle snake that positively altered their views of all snakes and inspired them to advocate for saving snakes in the wild; “during the training, I was amazed by the way the animal keepers handle snakes. This event changed my mind set to save snakes,” said Dr. Ricky.

We were proud to host these two impressive champions for wildlife and wish them the best! With every visit to the Houston Zoo, you are helping the Gorilla Doctors save animals in the wild!

Saving Snakes in India

The Houston Zoo is proud to announce a new conservation partner, Murthy Kantimahanti. Murthy is the founder and lead conservation biologist for the Eastern Ghats Wildlife Society. He has been working closely with communities in providing education and human-wildlife conflict intervention strategies.

Murthy works in the Eastern Ghats, located in Southern India, to mitigate human-snake conflict and build local community support in snake conservation. Fear and lack of knowledge about snakes has led to a rise killing of many snake species, including the king cobra. Murthy and his team are working to transform the fear of snakes into a respect and appreciation for the important role that snakes play in the ecosystem. Snakes are an important species to control rodent populations that spread deadly diseases.

With the support of the Houston Zoo and you, the Eastern Ghats Wildlife Society will be able to give school presentations, awareness talks at universities in towns and community centers in rural areas with human-snake conflict. Through this work, communities will learn how to identify venomous vs. non-venomous snakes, as well as learn valuable snake bite and first aid skills.

Please join us in welcoming this amazing conservation partner to the Houston Zoo family. With every visit to the Houston Zoo, you are helping save animals, like the king cobra, in the wild.

Friend The Eastern Ghats Wildlife Society on Facebook to learn more!

Bat Houses for the Bayou

Caoilin, Enya, Keenan, Skyler, Joaquin, Noe, and Lila built bat houses for the displaced bats of the Waugh Street Bridge.

The Waugh Street bridge, built over Buffalo Bayou, is a Houston landmark for bat watching. The flood waters from Buffalo Bayou during Hurricane Harvey caused the bats to leave their home under the bridge and take refuge elsewhere.

Seven young Houstonians took it upon themselves to help the displaced bats from Waugh Street Bridge by building them new homes in the form of bat houses. “My daughters and her friends were upset about the Waugh bridge bats so they responded by making these rocket houses,” said Woodland Heights resident, Alan. The plans for the rocket houses came from Bat Conservation International.

The new bat houses will be mounted along Buffalo Bayou, near the Waugh Street Bridge.

Meet the newest Wildlife Warriors

The Houston Zoo’s Wildlife Warriors are chosen from the staff of our wildlife Conservation Partners all over the world. The directors of our partner projects submit a member of their staff for this enhancement award. The Wildlife Warrior Award provides funds to support training and experiences that will strengthen the candidate’s skills and knowledge in saving wildlife. The Houston Zoo staff that welcome you at the entrance of the Zoo select the Wildlife Warriors based on wildlife saving criteria. Remember to ask them about these winners the next time you visit.

Here are the most recent recipients of the Wildlife Warrior Award:
Ms. Elisa Panjang was born and raised in Sandakan, Sabah, a town in the northern part of the Malaysian island Borneo. She is a Malaysian PhD student dedicating her studies to protecting the pangolin, the world’s most trafficked mammal.
Our staff was captivated by her passion for the wildlife she has grown up with and her commitment to saving this fascinating creature from extinction. Funds from this award will provide her with support for training in further protection techniques for pangolins.

Dr. Jean Bosco “Noel” Noheri is a Field Veterinarian with Gorilla Doctors and works out of the headquarters in Rwanda, his home country. Every week, he treks into the high-¬‐altitude Volcanoes National Park to check on the health of mountain gorilla families. Every time there is a report of an ill or injured gorilla, Noel is the first one of the team to check on it. To date in 2017, Gorilla Doctors has performed 12 separate clinical interventions to save the lives of wild gorillas.
Our staff was so amazed by Noel and very excited about the fact that he would like to use the funds from this award to support him with a Veterinary training program here at the Houston Zoo. He will travel to the Zoo and work with our veterinarians to strengthen his wildlife veterinary skills.

Lady is a wildlife biologist born in the Galapagos Islands. She created an ecology club which brings together more than 20 local youth, between 15 and 18 years old, weekly to monitor and lead projects that protect wildlife. Her students watch over sea turtle nests on Galapagos beaches and track giant tortoise in Galapagos National Parks.
Our staff was moved with Lady’s dedication to empowering the next generation of conservation leaders in Galapagos. Lady would like to use the funds from this award to support her participation in an environmental education training course in the United States, to further expand her impact.

Mr. Aden Mohamed is from rural Kenya with no formal education. He has 6 kids, has herded cattle all his life and in the past, relied on poaching to survive. Mr. Aden is now committed to saving wildlife and his knowledge of the poacher’s tricks and locations have saved animals like giraffe, hirola, kudu and gazelles.
Our staff was awe-inspired by his wildlife protection efforts to turn dangerous poachers in to the authorities, confiscation of harmful wire traps in wildlife habitat, and his work in transforming 3 former poachers into conservationists. They were also moved by Mr. Aden wanting to use the funds to support him in training school to learn how to read and write.

Andrew Letura is 32 years old, from Samburu, Kenya. Growing up next to Samburu National Reserve, Andrew was always interested in wildlife and now works tirelessly to save zebra. Andrew oversees 29 zebra protection staff (19 women and 10 men), training and supporting them in monitoring, data collection, and conservation outreach.
Our team was impressed with how he feels very passionate about supporting women in this training, so that they can gain more respect in their communities. And, how he has been known to camp out with injured wild zebras until veterinary assistance arrives.

With every visit to the Houston Zoo, you are helping these Wildlife Warriors in their work to save animals in the wild!

Celebrating a Wildlife Warrior

Photo Courtesy of Painted Dog Conservation

Enock Zulu, 2016 Houston Zoo Wildlife Warrior from Painted Dog Conservation, now wears his Wildlife Warrior badge with pride as a part of his uniform. Zulu has been leading the ever-growing anti-poaching team for many years and the Houston Zoo Wildlife Warrior award allowed him to travel to work with another anti-poaching project.

While visiting the other anti-poaching team, he was inspired by their use of domestic dogs in assisting with sniffing out snares and poachers. He came back with the idea to implement a domestic dog assistance unit program at Painted Dog Conservation.

Photo Courtesy of Painted Dog Conservation

Soon, Wildlife Warrior Enock Zulu will be managing a K9 unit to help his anti-poaching team be more effective in protecting wildlife. The Houston Zoo is providing funding for their dog assistance unit facility.

Congratulations Zulu! The Houston Zoo is proud to have him as a part of our team!

You too are helping Zulu and the Painted Dog Conservation project every time you visit the Houston Zoo, as a portion of every ticket and membership goes to saving animals in the wild!

African Painted Dog and pup
Photo Courtesy of Painted Dog Conservation

Community Cleans the Beach for Wildlife

On Saturday, July 15, the Houston Zoo and Whole Foods hosted a beach clean-up at the Galveston Island State Park. About 60 guests came out to help clean, collecting 15 full bags of trash and 4 full bags of recyclable items! It’s important to keep trash off the beaches, and out of the ocean, to protect the animals living there. Thank you to these wonderful volunteers!

Written by Stephanie Krail, Marketing Intern


Photo Credit: Amy Blackmon

This was my first beach clean-up to ever participate in and I am so glad it was with the Houston Zoo. The first hour I spent cleaning up the beach with the other volunteers because I wanted to see first-hand what was out there and how the volunteers were reacting to it. We had volunteers of all ages helping to clean the Galveston Island State Park. I was thrilled to see that families with young children came as this is a great way to educate a child on the importance of recycling, using reusable items, and not littering. We all had a great time seeing what we could find. It was almost like a scavenger hunt, seeing who could pick up the most unusual items. We found everything from milk jugs to soles of shoes. But the most common item that we found was plastic bottle caps. We found over a thousand bottle caps in two hours. This really shocked me as bottle caps are something that we could use less of every single day. The use of reusable bottles not only reduces the numbers of plastic bottles in the ocean but also plastic bottle caps.

Sorting trash and recycling

The last two hours we spent digging and sorting through the trash that the volunteers collected. Another popular item was cigarette butts. This was really sad for me to find because not only is it littering but it can be toxic to a marine animal if they ingest it. I was so glad to do this with the zoo because they had so much information and facts about what all we were finding. They knew which plastics were recyclable and which things had to be thrown away as trash.

Overall, it was such a neat experience and I hope that the Houston Zoo continues to hold it. This is something that you could do without a huge group or budget, all you need is a trash bag and a few helpful hands! This experience helps you see just a sliver of the trash that is out on our beaches and shores and allows you to see that something as simple as using a reusable water bottle every day really can make a difference.

Most Found Items:

  1. Plastic Bottle Caps – 1,362
  2. Tiny Plastic Pieces – 761
  3. Straws – 137

Strangest Items Found:

  1. Shoes/Shoe insoles – 3
  2. Beach Balls (still partially inflated) – 2
  3. Bathing suit – 1
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This morning, we humanely euthanized our male, 20-year-old jaguar, Kan Balam. Due to the tremendous care provided to him by his keepers and our veterinary team, Kan Balam lived well beyond his expected lifespan. Jaguars expected lifespan in the wild is between 12-15 years.

The carnivore staff and veterinary team made the decision after his quality of life began to decline. Quality care and continuous advances in veterinary medicine extends animals’ lives longer than ever, with most felines in human care living well beyond previous generations. Because of this, all cats, including domestic house cats and jaguars, often spend a significant phase of their lives as older animals, and are at a higher risk for geriatric complications.

Read more about Kan B, and the love his keepers had for him on our blog: www.houstonzoo.org/blog/mourning-loss-geriatric-jaguar-kan-balam/
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This morning, we humanely euthanized our male, 20-year-old jaguar, Kan Balam.  Due to the tremendous care provided to him by his keepers and our veterinary team, Kan Balam lived well beyond his expected lifespan. Jaguars expected lifespan in the wild is between 12-15 years. 
 
The carnivore staff and veterinary team made the decision after his quality of life began to decline. Quality care and continuous advances in veterinary medicine extends animals’ lives longer than ever, with most felines in human care living well beyond previous generations. Because of this, all cats, including domestic house cats and jaguars, often spend a significant phase of their lives as older animals, and are at a higher risk for geriatric complications.

Read more about Kan B, and the love his keepers had for him on our blog: https://www.houstonzoo.org/blog/mourning-loss-geriatric-jaguar-kan-balam/

 

Comment on Facebook

Soft kitty, warm kitty, little ball of fur; happy kitty, sleepy kitty, purr purr purr #RIP #bigbangtheory

I know he lived a lot longer due to the excellent care he got at the Zoo.

Is this the one that had the limp?

This was my daughters favorite critter at the Zoo. We always went to say hello to him before anyone else whenever we went. When she was 7 years old we sent a post out to out neighborhood on Halloween saying Paisley was asking for pocket change donations in lieu of candy for Halloween and all amounts would be donated to Kan thru the zoo. She raised over $40 in coins! I still have the letter from the zoo thanking her for her donation. He was a sweet boy and will be missed. 😔

I saw him limping about 2 weekends ago. The first time we walked by he was fine. When we walked by on the way out he was limping and moaning pretty loudly. I wondered what happened but I figured his keeper already knew or would find out shortly. Super Sad. He was always a lively one.

Sorry to hear about your loss. We also lost a jaguar(melanistic variety) at Reid Park Zoo about a year ago. Nikita was 21 years old and was euthanized due to health-related issues. Sad, but they have a GOOD life at the zoo! No predators, a steady food supply, medical attention, loving kindness from her keeper(s) and admiration by the public. Geriatric animals have unique problems and we are blessed to get to know them as long as we do.

Jaguar habitat is in the Zoo or Jungle's? ??or is only entertainments for person's? ??$$$$$$$!.Sorry animals the person's don't love you ..

Thank you Houston Zoo for taking such good care of him and all the animals! I've been going to this zoo since I was little bitty. I always enjoy it.

Dunno if the Zoo staff considered him a pet but he was certainly a family member, and because of that i offer this: RainbowBridge Author Unknown Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge. When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge. There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together. There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable. All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor. Those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by. The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind. They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent. His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster. You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart. Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together....

Aww. When interning in the carnivore dept he was one of my faves. So smart! Ashley remember when Angie was teaching him to do the moonwalk after Michael Jackson passed?

Sending love to the keepers that are broken hearted right now. And thank you for all the care you’ve given.

Beautiful jaguar ....so grateful for the Houston Zoo keepers and veterinary team that gave their time and efforts to share this awesome jaguar with us for so many years.

He was well-cared for and most of all well-loved. My heartfelt condolences to those missing Kan B as well as me. What an amazing ambassador for his kind. What a beautiful old gentleman. Thank you for loving him into old age and giving him peace.

What a great long life he lived because of his excellent care at the zoo Thoughts go out to his keepers and the entire Houston Zoo staff

Thank you for doing what was right and kind for Kan Balam even though it was hard and painful for you. That’s true love for an animal. ❤️

RIP Kan Balam. You have given the visitors so much pleasure just watching you over these years. You were taken care of by top notch professional handlers, etc.

I'm so sorry for your loss. Thanks for taking such great care of him so he was able to live a long life. My thoughts are with his keepers and all who adored him. <3

Aww I’m so sorry for the loss, I’ve seen him many times, he was absolutely gorgeous! I’m glad that you guys were able to make him comfortable, sometimes the best thing we can do is let them be at peace. Will miss this handsome guy; play hard at the Rainbow Bridge friend, day hi to my cat, Junior for me!! Much love to the HZI staff!!

Jaguars are one of my favorite and he seems like a sweet boy. I'm so sad but I'm happy he can be painless and be free now. RIP❤️

The Houston Zoo staff has lost several animals this year and I am sure each one is so hard to go through.

I am soo sorry for the loss of this handsome fella Kan Balam. May he rest in peace and run free or any pain over the rainbow bridge.. My heart and prayers go out to each and every one of the staff at the Zoo.

Katie Rose Buckley-Jones I won’t ever forget the time you asked him to bring something and he ripped off a piece of cardboard and tried to hand it to you ❤️ thank you for introducing me to him. Sending you guys many hugs

So sorry to the keeping staff for your loss i cant imagine how youre feeling :( his old age is a testimony to the amazing care he received

I will miss him. The last time I saw him he looked tired, and it appeared his foot was bothering him.

Sad to hear of this. Thanks for taking such good and compassionate care for him and the other animals.

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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: 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!

Happy New Year “sea lion keeper “ 💖💖

More snow for TJ and Max ❤️ lucky them!

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

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 😂

Lauren Gonzales

Mike DePope

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