Flamingo Flowers, Tapeworm Plants, and Toad Lilies?!

Those snazzy LEGO® animals aren’t the only thing that you’ll marvel at when you visit Animals Assembled: A Safari Built with LEGO Bricks, Presented by Fiesta. When you visit, be sure to take a look at the plants that surround them, because they sure do tell a story.

The story of these incredible plants came straight from the head of the Zoo’s own talented Horticulture Manager, Joe Williams. This guy has more plant knowledge than you could ever imagine, and when he was asked to create the exhibit where the LEGO animals would live, he jumped at the chance.

The plants in the penguin exhibit mimic snow drifts and the colors make it seem chilly, like their habitat in the wild.

Joe’s first move was to create a beautiful, lush, shaded pathway, making sure you don’t see too much too soon.

“One of the most important things about designing an exhibit like this is to make sure there’s a surprise around every corner. You don’t want to see everything at once. So we made a path that snakes around and leads you through an adventure. We used big screens of bamboo and other large plants to hide the animal around the corner so you don’t know what’s next.”

Flamingo flowers sit right next to the flamingo pond.

And if you look carefully at each LEGO animal’s surroundings, you’ll notice something else: many of the plants surrounding them make the animal seem like it’s in its natural habitat.

The penguins are flanked by Huntington Carpet Rosemary, which is low to the ground and drifts like snow. The tiger slinks through a shaded forest area near the Variegated Dianella, which mimics its stripes, just like plants help them camouflage in the wild. The Cardamon Ginger next to the gorilla mom and baby is just like what they eat in nature, and many zoos actually feed a similar plant to gorillas to help prevent heart disease!

Gorilla mom and baby with Cardamon Ginger (right middle plant)

What’s more, and you’d only know this if you were a plant buff, many of these plants have names similar to the LEGO animal that lives by them. The Flamingo Flower sits right at the base of the pond where the…you guessed it…flamingos are standing. “Under the Sea” Coleus sits in brightly-colored pots at the base of the aquarium featuring a LEGO octopus, crabs, stingray, and countless fish. And, because you knew Joe couldn’t stop there, the Stingray Elephant Ear also springs up from the ground around the aquarium.

Yep, that’s a Stingray Elephant Ear next to the Aquarium.

Now that you’re an Animals Assembled insider, check out this tip: at the very end of the path, just when you think you’re done, look to your right to see a short tree with spiky branches. You’re looking at one of the most endangered trees in the world, the Wollemi Pine, which is from New Zealand and dates back to the time of the dinosaurs!

Wollemi Pine: one of the most endangered plants in the world.

To learn more about Animals Assembled: A Safari Built with LEGO Bricks, Presented by Fiesta, visit https://www.houstonzoo.org/animals-assembled.

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