The Amazing Emerald

The month of May has one of my favorite stones for its birthstone – the emerald. It is also the stone for the 20th and the 35th wedding anniversaries.  Why is it one of my favorite stones?  Approximately 99% of all emeralds have inclusions, or flaws.  And yet, they are one of the most precious and valuable gemstones in the world.  It makes me think of all of us.  None of us are perfect and yet we are all valuable too, aren’t we?

Emerald Gemstones

Emeralds are a variety of beryl and its name comes from the Greek word for green. It is a hard, durable stone with a hardness rating of 7.5-8 on the Mohs Hardness Scale.  In comparison, diamond is a hardness rating of 10.  Today, they can be found worldwide including Colombia, Brazil, Afghanistan and Zambia.  In Colombia, the Muzo Indians had well-hidden and prized emerald mines.  They were so well hidden; it took Spanish Conquistadors 20 years to find them!

Emeralds have a long history and there is an abundance of folklore surrounding them. The first known emerald mines were in Egypt and were mined from at least 330 BC.  Cleopatra was known to have had a passion for emeralds and even claimed ownership of all emerald mines in Egypt during her reign.

Legends also say an emerald was one of the four precious stones given by God to King Solomon.

It has been believed that placing an emerald under the tongue gives one the ability to foresee the future, to reveal truth, and provides protection against evil spells. It was once also believed that emeralds could cure diseases like cholera and malaria.

Emeralds are also associated with lush green landscapes. Ireland is called the Emerald Isle and Seattle Washington is called the Emerald City.  Thailand’s most sacred religious icon is called the Emerald Buddha due to its lush green color even though it is carved from jadeite.

There have been many famous emeralds over the years.  Elizabeth Taylor’s emerald pendant sold for a record of $280,000 per carat for a total of $6,578,500.  The McKay Emerald is 167.79 carats and is the largest emerald in the Smithsonian National Gem Collection.   The Bahia Emerald weighs 752

Rough Emerald

pounds and an amazing 180,000 carats.  It originated in Bahia, Brazil.  This amazing stone, one of the largest in the world, is in a complex ownership dispute.  Approximately 8 different parties have claimed ownership.

Who has a May birthday and can claim this amazing stone as their birthstone? Singer Tim McGraw, Actor George Clooney, President John F. Kennedy and even Germany’s Red Baron, Baron Von Richtofen.

We often have emeralds for trade in the Naturally Wild Swap. Don’t know about the Naturally Wild Swap Shop?  Click here for more information.

Bronze Sculpture Soars at the Houston Zoo

This is the final piece of a three-part series on the history and current updates of the Houston Zoo Reflection Pool.

On Wednesday, May 24, the Houston Zoo held a dedication ceremony to honor the generous gift from the Marvy Finger Family Foundation, honoring Jerry and Ronny Finger. About 60 guests were in attendance, including close family members, zoo board members, and friends, including John and Jessie Killian, the couple who introduced the artist, Bob Guelich, to Marvy Finger.

The sculpture was commissioned in 1979 for a building Finger owned at the time. About three years later, the artwork, which features a flock of 10 Canada geese flying through the air, was complete.

“I envisioned these birds landing after a long migration southward from who-knows-where, honking and announcing their arrival,” said Guelich.

 

More than 30 years later, the sculpture was reconditioned and plans were set to bring it to the zoo. Standing at an impressive 18 feet long and 13 feet tall, this bronze sculpture weighs 8,500 pounds! It’s so massive that the zoo maintenance team had to use a large crane to get the sculpture to its current location in the Reflection Pool.

In an extraordinary act of generosity, Finger donated this sculpture for all to enjoy—now, and for generations to come. “It’s just overwhelming to me,” said Finger of his excitement that the sculpture would live at the zoo.

Left to right: Artist Bob Guelich, Marvy Finger, and Lee Ehmke, Houston Zoo CEO and president

During your next visit to the zoo, head over to the Reflection Pool to see this magnificent work of art. It’ll make for a great photo!

Staying Hydrated and Saving Sea Turtles

It may not officially be summer yet, but it is starting to feel like summer! This summer you will probably be drinking a lot of water, because with the heat, comes dehydration.

Did you know that while you are keeping yourself healthy by drinking water, you can also save animals in the wild? Every time you use a refillable water bottle you are keeping plastics out of the ocean and out of animals’ homes, as it is one less single-use plastic bottle used.

The Houston Zoo is the perfect place to use your refillable bottles! Over the past year, we have installed water bottle refill stations throughout the Zoo. There are two types of refill stations to keep an eye out for – free standing, green fountains and silver, chilled fountains attached to walls.

You can also recognize the water bottle refill station by the signs that say “Save Sea Turtles Here,” because that is what you are doing by using these stations.

So, on your next trip to the Houston Zoo, don’t forget your reusable water bottle, and refill it at the water bottle refill stations to stay hydrated and save sea turtles in the wild!

Looking Back: A Brief History of the Zoo’s Reflection Pool

This is part two of a three-part series on the history and current updates of the Houston Zoo Reflection Pool.

The Reflection Pool at the Houston Zoo was first conceptualized shortly after the zoo’s opening in 1922. Designed by Hare & Hare in 1924 and constructed in 1926, the Reflection Pool was a collection of three smaller pools flanked by live oak trees along both sides. This design was intended to replicate, on a much smaller scale, the Mary Gibbs and Jesse H. Jones Reflection Pool located at the entrance of Hermann Park.

The Reflection Pool, in 1944, divided into three small pools.

Then, in the 1950s, the zoo’s Reflection Pool underwent construction when the “Monkey Mansion” (now the Wortham World of Primates) was built. This transformed the pool from the three mini pools into the one long pool that you can currently see at the zoo.

A 1971 aerial view of the Zoo shows the Reflection Pool as one long pool.

Though it has undergone changes in the last century, the Houston Zoo Reflection Pool maintains the lush landscaping and majestic oak trees that was originally planned and constructed by Hare & Hare in the early 1920s, a true historic landmark on zoo grounds.

Check back next week as we show you some of the recent changes we’ve made and unveil its newest sculpture!

Saving Lemurs in Madagascar with KPRC

Last October, the Houston Zoo hosted KPRC morning anchor, Rachel McNeil and her family on a journey to visit with our conservation partner, GERP, in Madagascar. Now we’re excited to share the adventure with you!

2016 – KPRC in Madagascar

During this one-hour special, Rachel shows you what it takes to protect Madagascar, which is renowned as a biodiversity hotspot. This island nation off the coast of Southeast Africa is home to more than 100 lemur species. In the wild, lemurs can only be found in Madagascar. As lemurs face an uncertain future due to habitat loss, hunting, and other threats, the work that GERP does – supported by each of you – is more vital than ever.

The special, which aired in April, is now available to watch online! Watch and learn how the Houston Zoo and you are saving lemurs in the wild!

 

A portion of each membership and admission ticket goes toward saving lemurs in the wild!

Houston-Area Schools Are Saving Wildlife!

What an incredible time we had at Party for the Planet Presented by CenterPoint Energy on Saturday, April 22nd!

At the Houston Texans Enrichment Zone, students from KIPP Academy Middle School put on a “Trashion” show with fashion they made from recycled products.  The students turned trash into art and had an amazing wildlife-saving message behind each beautiful creation.  Below is a picture of Susannah modeling her dashiki made from plastic bags, straws and cardboard.

We also had a grand performance of songs from The Lion King, sung by 2nd through 5th grade students from Lyons Elementary.  Lyons made all of their costumes and backdrop from recycled materials.  Their backdrop, a beautiful African sunset, was made from over 400 milk cartons that the students collected!

The Houston Zoo started working with Lyons Elementary through our Mascot Program.  The students raise money through their “Love Your Lions” initiative and all the funds go directly to Niassa Lion Project.  DeAndra Ramsey, School Program Coordinator in the  Houston Zoo’s Conservation Education Department, was able to attend the opening night of The Lion King at Lyons Elementary that was held at their school on April 20, 2017.  She opened the show by speaking on how the Houston Zoo works to save wildlife, the importance of practicing sustainable behaviors like recycling, and highlighting how the students at Lyons Elementary were becoming wildlife warriors! She was blown away by the wonderful efforts of the entire school! 

Both schools did an amazing job inspiring our guests to help save wildlife during Party for the Planet Presented by CenterPoint Energy by simply getting creative and reusing everyday items instead of throwing away.

May’s Featured Member – Tim Daponte and Ginnie Muller family

We love our Members. Their incredible support allows us to make a difference to animals both locally and all over the world. This month, we’re spotlighting Zoo Members that deserve recognition. We’re thrilled to introduce you to May’s Featured Members: Tim Daponte and Ginnie Muller family.


We asked Tim and Ginnie  what being Zoo Members meant to their family. Here’s what they had to say. “Our family history with the Houston Zoo began on one of our first dates so we naturally became members after we got married. With Matthew’s birth, we began a tradition of visiting the Zoo every week.

At age two, he insisted on “resting like a Rhinoceros” during nap time whenever he could not go to sleep.  When Ginnie was expecting George, Tim brought Matthew to the Zoo every Friday after school to give her time to rest. His preschool teachers could not believe his extensive knowledge of animals and their native habitats. Matthew celebrated his 4th birthday at the Zoo with his classmates and attended Zoo education programs in the summers and on weekends. Tim and Matthew especially loved the behind-the-scenes tour of the Kipp Aquarium where Matthew fed a rescued Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtle.

George has a most special relationship with the Houston Zoo, its animals and staff. While Matthew’s weekly visits to the Zoo were interrupted by the increasing demands of school, sports, and Scouts, George has thrived on the routine of Zoo visits every Saturday morning. He enjoys the sensory experience of being outdoors in all weather conditions and the bonds he creates with the animals. As a non-verbal, autistic and intellectually disabled boy, George experiences the Zoo at a different level in a highly sensitized way. For years, he headed directly to the Giraffes and remained there, walking back and forth. Although he rarely looked at the Giraffes, his quiet presence did not go unnoticed by them, as they would stop eating and walk towards the railing as soon as they saw him approaching. There they would remain until he waved goodbye and wandered to another exhibit. His favorite Houston Zoo animals with which he spends countless hours include the typically motionless Shoebill Stork, the constantly moving Maned Wolf, and the wounded Bald Eagle whose exhibit was particularly attractive when it contained a replica nest to sit in and required walking on a ramp with hanging plastic chains to access it. His favorite exhibits include the Kipp Aquarium where George loves to run around in the dark and Natural Encounters where he retreats from the crowd by the Naked Mole-Rats. At the McGovern Children’s Zoo, he explores the Bat caves, hangs with the Swift Fox, watches the Ducks and Pelicans, and presses buttons which make bird and animal noises. At the Swap Shop, George enjoys the many wonderful items to touch offered by Suzanne and seeks refuge from extreme heat and occasional downpours (although we miss the cats Penny and Bagherra). At the end of each visit, George celebrates with a high-five from cheerful Elena as we exit.

George’s parents are not the only ones who follow him throughout the Zoo, alternately waiting patiently when he finds a particular spot where he wants to stay or running to catch him when he takes off. About four years ago, we met two little boys and their father, Robert, who like us visit the Zoo every Saturday and arrive before the gates roll up. Noah and Joey instantly loved the challenge of following their new friend George who was much older, taller and faster. They let him be the leader in this special game invented out of necessity since George, who has difficulty understanding and playing games, will not follow them.  Despite George’s lack of social and communication skills, he has formed a special bond with these boys with whom he is uncharacteristically comfortable sharing his personal space. Their friendship is just another amazing experience we attribute to our Houston Zoo membership.”

From all of us here at the Houston Zoo, we want to say thank you to all of our Zoo Members. As a Houston Zoo Member, your support truly makes an impact on the growth of our Zoo and conservation efforts. THANKS!

Reflection Pool Gets a New Look

This is part one of a three-part series on the history and current updates of the Houston Zoo Reflection Pool.

If you’ve visited the Houston Zoo recently, you might have noticed the Reflection Pool was closed to the public. That’s because the Reflection Pool just underwent routine maintenance for cleaning and water quality control.

The first step in cleaning the pool is to remove all the fish and transport them to quarantine tanks located behind the Kipp Aquarium. Once aquarium staff have removed the fish, zoo maintenance staff completely drains the pool, clears all leaves and pressure washes the emptied pool. Leaves aren’t the only items found when cleaning out the pool – zoo staff collected toys, sunglasses, conservation bracelets, and more!

They then inspect the area for any repairs needed, remove all the sculptures currently in place and will prepare to install a newly-donated sculpture. After the sculpture is set in place, zoo horticulture staff will update plants along the pool, water will be poured back in, and the fish will return to their homes.

Ideally this routine maintenance takes place once every year, though if water chemistry and conditions are up to standards, the process takes place every other year.

Be sure to check back on more updates of the Reflection Pool construction. And don’t miss the unveiling of the newly-donated sculpture later this month!

Houstonians Decked Out to Dive Under the Sea at Zoo Ball: An Aquatic Affair

As a cool breeze slipped into town, more than 450 of Houston’s finest gathered to celebrate the Houston Zoo at its annual black tie fete, raising more than a million dollars to support the zoo. This year’s event, hosted by chairs Joe and Susie Dilg, was themed to match the zoo’s commitment to sustainable seafood and the reduction of single-use plastics to help save the seas.

Photo credit, Jenny Antill

The party-goers turned up the volume on gowns and glamour, and the zoo transformed its tented event space, Masihara Pavilion, into an enchanting under-the-sea soiree. The zoo’s new in-house catering group, Taste, served a multi-course dinner of mouthwateringly tender braised short rib over stone-ground grits with Gouda and lobster.

Photo credit, Jenny Antill

During dinner, guests were treated to a heartfelt speech by the co-chairs honoring Suzanne Nimocks, the zoo’s former board chair and event honoree as well as Phillips 66, the event’s corporate honoree. Houston Zoo CEO and president, Lee Ehmke, spoke some words of gratitude and presented a short video about the zoo’s accomplishments.

Guests bid on silent auction items during cocktail hour with the highest bid going for $3,300 for the Vet for A Morning prize. After dinner, a spirited live auction called by auctioneer Mark Thomas, showcased three very competitive items that were snatched for top dollar. A safari to Tanzania sold for $18,000, a week-long-stay at a private residence in Park City, Utah topped out at $14,500, and the chance to name the next sea lion pup born at the Houston Zoo raised $11,000.

Photo credit, Jenny Antill

 

 

Once dinner and the program completed, IDT Band from Dallas brought the house down at an After Party hosted by the zoo’s young professionals group, Flock. Party-goers grooved to dance hits from today and yesterday, and munched on late night bites like sliders, pretzels and a mix-it-up popcorn station.

Faces in the crowd: Susie and Joe Dilg (Chairs); Tim Roberts – Philips 66 (Honoree); Lee Ehmke (Houston Zoo CEO) and Sue Chin; Roxanne Almaraz (Auction Chair); Bobbie Nau; Courtney and Bas Soleveld; Candace and Brian Thomas; Cathy and Joe Cleary; Cullen Geiselman; Molly and Coert Voorhees; Myrtle Jones; Elizabeth and Jud Wolfe; Leticia and Steve Trauber; Soraya and Scott McClelland; Leslie and Shannon Sasser; Jennifer and Chris LaPorte; Alie and Dave Pruner; Beverly and Jim Postl; Anne Chao

Celebrate Tapirs with Baby Antonio!

Written by Mary Fields


Join baby Antonio and the Houston Zoo in celebrating World Tapir Day! We will be holding our third annual Tapir Spotlight on Species this weekend, April 29th and 30th, from 10:00 am until 3:00 pm.

Last year, Moli was new to our Tapir SOS as our new breeding female. But guess what? Moli had a baby named Antonio! Antonio was only about 20 pounds when he was born, but will reach around 550 pounds when he is full size! Antonio is typically exploring or sleeping on exhibit from 9:00 am until 2:15 pm, weather dependent.

There are four species of tapir, including three Latin American species, Baird’s, Lowland, and Mountain. The Malayan tapir is the fourth species and the only Asian species of tapir.

Along with celebrating tapirs, we will also be celebrating Día del Niño, or Children’s Day! So, come out this weekend to the Houston Zoo and learn about tapirs, play fun tapir-related games and of course to see baby Antonio!

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Houston Zoo Facebook Page

Take a look at our beautiful new elephant habitat that DOUBLES the existing elephant complex. It's open now, so come watch our elephants play, splash, and swim. You've gotta see this! ... See MoreSee Less

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Comment on Facebook

That is great! I can't wait to come see it. Are there any plans to expand the giraffe exhibit ever? I feel like it's very small compared to all of the other really awesome exhibits for the big animals.

I feel like I've never seen grass in a zoo elephant habitat before- I bet they're hard on it! The whole exhibit looks incredible- especially the deep water! Amazing design; hope I can get to Houston one day to see it!

I took some of my daycare kiddos yesterday specifically to see the new space. They had it blocked off and wouldn't let anyone pass through the elephant area through to the hoofed animals. We were really sad we didn't get to see it.

Keep wild animals captive for the human entertainment. - Are we not better then that yet?? Shameful😢😢😢 And don't try to use that word 'conservation' - critical thinkers are smarter than that.

Yes THANK YOU for providing a more natural. Habitat for the elephant's. They need SPACE to roam. N the water added is awesome....they really needed that!

Waiting for some stupid kid to jump in and ruin it for the elephants.

Why have so many elephants babies died at your zoo ? it is because they are not meant to live in Captivity. Please set them free and stop breeding elephants for monetary value.

Not fond of most zoos, but at least these elephants are safe from killers like the Trump sons.

Jenny Carlisle I see a great excuse for Kimber to come visit besides to see her cousins!!

John and JoAnn we need to take Grant again. He will be so excited to see this!

So happy to see the Zoos continued support of the amazing Elephant Program

Karl Schuhknecht Let's go again when you get home! We can never go too much, right?

Sergey!! We have to go!! Definitely bringing mama Nina too 🙂🐘

Thank you providing a beautiful setting for their physical and mental health!

Remember it was under construction when we were there Nicky Lichtl

Molly Pesl it's time for us to go on a rainy day.... 😎👍🏼

Eddie - we gotta go soon so Adrian can see his favorite animal splish-solash

Dang! That is awesome! Why didn't you tell me it was this pretty Kristin!? 😜

JoAnn, looks like we're taking Thomas to the zoo soon! 😍

Lesli Gietz James Gietz Grant going to love see this 💙 🐘

Nichole, I think a trip to the zoo is in our future!!

Does Tye get to play as well? Thought one of the elephants was in his on enclosure

Allison Jones I want to go see the elephants in the pool!

Awsome! Just in time for the hot summer ahead...#splish & #splash

Love elephants. Such quiet, gentle, strong and wise creatures.

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Houston Zoo was live.
Houston Zoo

We are live from our HUGE new elephant habitat expansion. This incredible new area opens tomorrow! ... See MoreSee Less

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Comment on Facebook

Do the Asian and African elephants coexist well?

how would you save a elephant if they had difficult swimming?

Is there opportunities for the public to get up close to see the elephants behind the scenes?

Do you offer any type of feeding or event like you have with the giraffes? Or sticking with the bath time?

Can they climb up on that ledge or is that just to keep them back from the fence

Will males and females be always separated now?

Do the elephants hug and let you get kisses?

When do the trainers talk this summer?

Will the females get to share the yard too?

How/where will males and females interact?

How much did this cost the taxpayers of Houston???

What is the depth of the pool?

About how long can they hold breath

Is there a web cam at the new yard?

How can you tell who is Tucker and who is Baylor

Are the elephants on display today?

How many elephants are there?

When is it open to public?

How deep is the pool

Still want to know why only the males are getting to use the new area.

I know they had said this habitat is for the males, does that mean the males and females will always be separated from now on

Gross question, but I'm curious... Do elephants defecate under water & is maintenance similar to a home pool?

@Cheree Neil It is to do with habits. Elephants when lacking enrichment complete stereotypical behaviours as they're known and swaying is one of them. It essentially is a display of boredom.

Kelsey Patterson - we are going to get to the zoo before you pop! Even if i have to push you around in one of those sea lion carts! LOL!

Ian, we love you and are so proud of you. Thank you for being our son.

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