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Zoo News Blog

2021 Zoo Successes

Happy holidays from our herd to yours! Thank you for supporting the Zoo throughout the year and helping us save animals in the wild. Below are some of our successes we’d like to share from 2021 as we close out the year and move on to 2022. Cheers to the New Year!

1. Elephant Babies Times Two
This year, we had not one, but two baby elephants, Winnie and Teddy, born at the Zoo. Come out to see our elephant herd in 2022 as Winnie and Teddy continue growing in their first year. The Zoo provides support, equipment, and training for local researchers to place satellite collars on wild elephants and track them in Asia. The Zoo’s Malaysian conservation team is now watching over and protecting three groups of wild elephants with babies in Borneo.

2. Top Honors in Exhibit Design and Conservation
The Zoo received two Top Honors awards during the virtual 2021 Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Annual Conference. We received Top Honors in the Exhibit Award for our work on the Kathrine G. McGovern Texas Wetlands and Cypress Circle Café. We received Top Honors for the William G. Conway International Conservation Award for our joint work with the Giant Armadillo Conservation Project, along with our peers at SeaWorld & Busch Gardens Fund and Naples Zoo at Caribbean Gardens.

Texas Wetlands habitat at the Houston Zoo

3. Blue-billed Curassow Chicks
The Zoo successfully hatched one of the most endangered bird species, the blue-billed curassow, with two chicks being born. The Houston Zoo is one of the few zoos in the U.S. to breed this critically endangered bird and also works to protect this species in the wild.

4. Saving Sea Turtles
Houston Zoo staff have worked diligently to support the recovery of endangered species by providing veterinary care and rehabilitation for sea turtles and facilitating threat reduction efforts with communities on the upper Texas coast.

In 2021, we provided medical care and support for over 100 injured or stranded wild sea turtles. If you find an injured or stranded sea turtle, please call 1-866-TURTLE-5.

5. Attwater’s Prairie Chickens
Since 1995, the Zoo has worked tirelessly to save a Texas native, the Attwater’s prairie chicken, from extinction. This year, the Zoo released 69 Attwater’s prairie chickens, bred at the Zoo, back into the wild.

male Attwater's prairie chicken sitting in grass in the wild

6. Record-Breaking Zoo Ball
The Black & White Ball presented by Phillips 66 was a stunning success! With more than 700 guests in attendance and many others bidding from home, together we raised nearly $1.8 million for the Houston Zoo’s wildlife-saving mission.

We are grateful for every supporter, partner, and volunteer who participated in this record-breaking Zoo Ball. And special thanks to Chevron for generously matching the first $150,000 in contributions raised on the day of the event!

guest with Curly the sloth at Zoo ball

7. Houston Toads
You are supporting the Zoo’s work to breed Houston toads at the Zoo and reintroduce them into the Texas wild. Since 2007, the Houston Zoo has been working hard to make sure the Houston toad doesn’t disappear from Texas forever. About 600 toads live permanently at the Houston Zoo and these toads have a very important job – make more Houston toads. In 2021, we released over 750,000 eggs, 150 tadpoles, and 450 toadlets into the wild.

8. White Rhinos Released in the Wild
Your visit is saving rhinos in the wild. Recently, 30 white rhinos were reintroduced in Rwanda’s National Park, Akagera in Africa. The Zoo’s veterinary staff are providing virtual medical care guidance and mentorship for Rwandan veterinarians so they can be prepared to provide the best medical care for the wild rhinos.

9. Saving Birds with our Coffee
The Zoo’s coffee is saving birds in the wild by ensuring all the coffee growing processes are safe for wild birds. The Zoo’s coffee roaster, Katz, is now officially certified as a Bird Friendly roaster, so the coffee blend served on Zoo grounds is all Bird Friendly. This action is helping save birds like the Andean cock-of-the-rock you can see in our Savanna Aviary inside of South America’s Pantanal in the wild.

10. Celebrating 10 Years of Zoo Lights
This year, we made several new additions to help celebrate 10 years of TXU Energy presents Zoo Lights! From animal lanterns to a glowing underwater adventure in the Great Ape Gallery, there are plenty of new bright lights and sparkly features for guests to see.

zebra animal lantern

You can recycle your holiday lights at the Zoo to save animals like bobcats and black bears in the wild. The Zoo uses LED lights for Zoo Lights and you can purchase your own LED lights to help save animals in the wild while saving energy. 

Honorable Mention
The Saving Wildlife: Giants of the Pantanal KPRC Special won the Lone Star EMMY in the Environment / Science – Short Form or Long Form Content category. KPRC reporters traveled with the Houston Zoo to South America’s Pantanal, the largest tropical wetland in the world, to see some of the most mysterious and biggest species on the planet, and how we are helping save these animals in the wild.