The Houston Zoo is creating the next generation of saving wildlife heroes. One way we are achieving that goal is by forming lasting partnerships with school groups in and around the Houston area. Each partnership looks a bit different from one another, but they all have one thing in common: they are inspiring students, teachers and communities to take action to save wildlife! Lyons Elementary is an example of one school that is partnering with the Houston Zoo to save lions through the Mascot Program.
The partnership between Lyons Elementary, located off the Hardy Toll Road, and the Houston Zoo started back in 2014. The students rallied together and raised funds to send to Niassa Carnivore Project to save their mascot: the lion! Niassa Carnivore Project has been a longtime conservation partner of the Houston Zoo, working to save carnivores in Mozambique. They promote co-existence with lions within the local communities surrounding the Niassa National Reserve. The school collected spare change during their “Love Your Lions” event: a two-week period in February centered around Valentine’s Day.
Ms. Izquierdo had the wonderful idea of incorporating the arts into the partnership with the Houston Zoo. The school’s drama department had the chance to perform a play that featured their very special mascot: Lion King! The Zoo attended the opening night performance at the school. The students were able to come to the Houston Zoo and perform for the guests attending our “Party for the Planet” Earth Day celebration. You can read more about their Houston Zoo performance here: https://www.houstonzoo.org/blog/houston-area-schools-saving-wildlife/
The 2017-2018 school year began with the “Love Your Lions Kick-off Event.” Zoo staff spoke to the entire student body of Lyons Elementary to share how they could save lions in the wild. The students were able to learn more about the lions who call the Houston Zoo home and the amazing work that students will be doing to help Niassa Carnivore Project save lions in the wild.
Lyons Elementary decided to add another component to this year’s “Love Your Lions” event. Each class chose to decorate their money collection box. The only guidelines were that their designs had to address one of the following topics:
At the conclusion of the collection period, the boxes were transported to the Houston Zoo. Staff members from the Conservation Education team, the carnivore animal care team, and the Grounds/Housekeeping team all had the chance to vote on the box that they felt was the most impressively decorated. Ms. Delcid’s third grade class won the decoration contest and received a special prize!
At the end of the “Love Your Lions” fundraising drive, the school tallied up the funds brought in by each class. Students brought in over $2,500! These funds were sent to our Conservation Partners at the Niassa Carnivore Project to help save lions in Mozambique. Ms. Chavarria’s fourth grade class brought in almost $400, making this class the top fundraisers of the campaign.
Ms. Chavarria and her students were able to come to the Zoo on March 23 to participate in a Lion Fun Day that was held in their honor to thank them for all their hard work saving lions in the wild. The students were able participate in the same games and crafts that the communities in Mozambique do in their Lion Fun Day as well. The day culminated with a special experience with our carnivore keepers and an up-close interaction with our lions here at the Houston Zoo.
Lyons Elementary is another shining example of a school that is taking action to save wildlife.