A Wild Lesson in Photography

Here in the Conservation Education Department at the Houston Zoo, we say that ANYONE can be a champion for wildlife and use their skill set to save our wild spaces.  Whether you are an ecologist or an accountant; a biologist or a carpenter; everyone can contribute something to the cause!

Recently, Ms. Charlotte Schilten the Yearbook Sponsor for New Caney Middle School, reached out to the Houston Zoo to see if there would be an opportunity for yearbook students to come learn from one of photographers here at the Zoo on the best way to use their new cameras.  The New Caney School district has an educational foundation that awards grants for educators with exceptional, innovative ideas. This year, Ms. Schilten was one of 3 teachers from her campus to be awarded a grant which allowed the campus to purchase 5 new cameras, including memory and zoom lenses, for her students.

Immediately after receiving Ms. Schilten’s email, I had the thought: “What an awesome opportunity to pair this awesome group of students with one of our amazing photographers here at the Zoo while helping them see that even a skill such as photography can be used in the field of conservation!”  I set to work arranging everyone’s schedule and getting the day organized.

The yearbook students, along with Ms. Schilten, came to the zoo on January 24th.  They were able to spend some time with one of our amazing volunteer photographers, Dale Martin.  He showed them different ways to use their cameras, some things to always keep in mind when photographing animals, and some of the tricks he uses photographing animals here at the zoo.  The students then got to practice on the Ambassador Animals that I brought for them to photograph.

Here are some of the students’ favorite photos that they took.


Photo credit: Abby Rojas

“I really enjoyed going to the Houston Zoo. It turned out to be better than I thought it was going to be. My favorite part of that experience was when they brought out some animals and the talked about them. I had a really great time, and I hope we get to do this again. Thank you for allowing us to have that trip, and hopefully we will see you again.”

Photo credit: Grace Gideon

“The zoo to us wasn’t just a place to mess around and look at animals, it was a place to teach us how to look at the real beauty in photography.”

Photo credit: Jackie Walters

“I enjoyed the zoo so much! It was such a great experience to see and take pictures of the animals. I also learned so much from this trip!”

Photo credit: James Watson

“The trip itself was more amazing than I thought it was going to be in the first place! But my favorite part was when they brought out the animals. I knew they were going to be bring out them out, but it was so amazing to see such beautiful animal, and it was great to practice on moving subjects!  I had an amazing time and I hope we get to do something like this again sometime soon!”

Photo credit: McKinlee Lucas

Thank you to the Houston Zoo for this experience in using our new cameras to photograph the animals. I learned that day so much about photography that will definitely help me in the future. This something I would do again and recommend for other students.

Photo credit: Valerie Morales

“I enjoyed capturing the different moments in the animals lives and it was a very new and exciting experience. Thank you for giving us the chance to go.”

Photo credit: Ashlynn Cantu

“Going to the Houston Zoo was a great experience to have for yearbook. I loved being involved with the animals and getting to be a part of their day. I learned a lot that day about the cameras. I’m glad I got to have that experience, and I hope we can visit again soon.


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Sets up a surprise sloth encounter as a birthday present for Simone Biles. You might think his shirt is made out of cotton. Turns out, it's boyfriend material. ... See MoreSee Less


Sets up a surprise sloth encounter as a birthday present for Simone Biles. You might think his shirt is made out of cotton. Turns out, its boyfriend material.


Comment on Facebook

Can anyone do this?


Where is the sloth's exhibit located within the zoo?

I'm not sure who is the cutest- the sloth, Simone, her boyfriend or SMG!!!

Christopher Vavrecka 😍 this is what I want for my birthday

And that is Curly- the best sloth in the world!

Erica Gunter when we going to see the giraffes?? 😍

JasonSara Pipkin, I do have a membership next time you want to go to Houston. 😉

Chris Roach, since Chelsea loves sloths.

Jason! I want an encounter with Succotash for my upcoming bday!!

I signed my wife up back in December. She gets her sloth encounter in May and is very excited!!

Julia Tompkins you and Simone have met the same sloth

I like the way the sloth looks right at the camera and poses for the picture.

what a cute picture... that sloth sure did pose for it too 😂😂

Glynis Henry we could have seen her there if we went today. i'm sad now, i love her!

Maria Diaz you could do this for Jenn!

Why is the red panda sold out forever in advance 😩 or is it just not really an encounter

Coming to the zoo this Saturday. Can not wait!

Cameron Caylor Robyn Davis Deddens apparently we can pay to meet a sloth. If you two care about my happiness WHAT SO EVER, you’ll make this happen.

Melissa Nitsche - we held a sloth & baby in Cartegena while on vacation when we lived in Panama City, Panana

Ashley Janitz Montalvo I knew there was a sloth at the Houston zoo!

We met Curly shortly after he came to Houston Zoo! So glad he's still alive and well!

Amanda Leigh Ramirez Even better! Let's chat when you get back from all your time out of the office.

Janet Roper Gratkowski, Laci is in good company with her sloth-love! 😂😂

Sloth says, “Wow, I’m usually too slow to photo bomb. Cool!”

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Houston Zoo was live.
Houston Zoo

Spring break is over and it's back to the grind, so here's something relaxing. Enjoy watching our giraffes eat lettuce during our 11 a.m. giraffe feeding! ... See MoreSee Less



Comment on Facebook

Adam Thornton we should go do this!!

What a way to relax during lunch! The giraffes are so graceful!!

Just went two months ago planing to go again !

One of my favorite things to do when we go to the zoo!

Please tell me it won't be as crowded as Sunday if we come during the week

One of my favorite parts of the zoo.

How fun ... I love going to the zoo

My favorite....Giraffes!!😁😁



They so beautiful


Aww ❤️ ❤️

Dustin Badgerow

Karina Rocha


😍 excelente experiencia !! 😍💜

Dustin Badgerow

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