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Zoo News Blog

Save Animals in the Wild this Holiday Season

From the inception of the first TXU Energy presents Zoo Lights event 12 years ago, Houston Zoo has hosted nearly 3 million guests for what has become one of Houston’s favorite holiday traditions! While we strive to make TXU Energy presents Zoo Lights a fun and memorable experience for all, our overarching goal in all we do is to save animals in the wild.

Since 2015, Houston Zoo has been instrumental in collecting over 31,000 pounds of holiday lights for recycling, equivalent to the weight of five female elephants! Thanks to our Zoo guests and partners, this waste has been diverted from landfills, thus protecting the habitats of native animals including turtles, bobcats, coyotes, and black bears.

The landfill diversion goes beyond recycled lights as our lighting designers do not allow old displays to go to landfills either. What can’t be restored or re-purposed is responsibly recycled. You may have noticed décor of yesteryear is getting new life as reimagined displays throughout the Zoo. There is a conscious effort in every operational decision carried out to be as sustainable as possible, while also protecting the animals that call the Zoo their home and wild animals, as well. As you begin decorating your own space this holiday season, we encourage you to bring any discarded lights you may have to the Zoo for recycling. Our Holiday Lights Recycling Bin is conveniently located at the main entrance of the Zoo, and you may drop off your lights for recycling any time through January 7.

Impact outside our Zoo

As part of one of the busiest thoroughfares for bird migration in North America, Houston and surrounding communities have a unique opportunity to protect those migrating birds as they make their way through our region. You may have already noticed some avian visitors in your own yard or green space. Fall migration is happening now and goes through December, so at Houston Zoo, we do our part to protect those migratory species by turning off all non-essential lights (including Zoo Lights!) every night by 11:00 p.m. Birds navigate by way of the stars in the nighttime hours, so any artificial light on the ground during that time may be disorienting. You can protect migratory birds this season by making sure all non-essential lights are turned off between 11:00 p.m. – 6:00 a.m. each night.

Hooded warbler is a species that migrates during fall migration.

Additionally, our Zoo is proud to report that only energy-efficient LED lights are used for TXU Energy presents Zoo Lights. LED lights consume less energy, produce less heat, and have a longer lifespan than other types of lighting. If you have not already done so, consider converting all lights in your home and workplace to LED.

Just by visiting TXU Energy presents Zoo Lights, you are saving animals in the wild here in Houston and around the world!