Take Action for Our Oceans

It’s a well-known fact that the ocean makes up a very large part of the planet we live on. In fact, the ocean covers more than 70 percent of Earth’s surface! Though it may seem a daunting task to keep ALL that ocean healthy, we can all take small actions that have a big impact in protecting the ocean and the animals living there.

First things first. Why should you want to protect the ocean? Our ocean actually make oxygen, and that’s pretty neat (and also life-saving)! Phytoplankton living near the surface of the water absorb carbon dioxide during photosynthesis just like plants do on land. They cover a lot more surface area of the planet and, therefore, produce half of the Earth’s oxygen supply. We can thank the ocean for helping us be able to breathe!

In addition to oxygen, the ocean also provides food! The diversity of life in the ocean makes for some interesting meals, but some species are being overfished and upsetting the delicate balance of life in the big blue. The good news is we can protect these overfished species! When you’re eating seafood at a restaurant or purchasing it at the grocery store, make sure to choose ocean-friendly, sustainable seafood. Ocean-friendly seafood is seafood that has been caught or farmed in a way that protects animals like sharks and rays and ensures fish populations thrive over time.

Being ocean-friendly can be simple, too! Download the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch app to learn which seafood options are best choices or good alternatives. Use the app when making your ocean-friendly seafood purchases at grocery stores or ordering at restaurants.

The Houston Zoo is also ocean-friendly! All the animals at the zoo that eat seafood eat only sustainable seafood. In fact, the sea lions ate 23,850 pounds of ocean-friendly, sustainably-caught fish last year. The zoo also ensures seafood served at any on-site restaurant or special event is always sustainably-sourced.

You can learn this and so much more at World Oceans Day Presented by Whole Foods Market this Saturday, June 10 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Visit booths and enjoy activities as you learn how you can keep our oceans healthy and protect the animals living there, sign up for our annual beach clean-up, and enjoy themed Meet the Keeper Talks presented by Phillips 66. This event is included in your zoo admission and is free for Zoo Members. Click here to learn more about World Oceans Day Presented by Whole Foods Market and how to protect the ocean.

World Oceans Day Presented by Whole Foods Market is generously sponsored by Whole Foods Market and JUST Water.

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.

Help Save Elephants in the Wild and Wear Gray for World Elephant Day!

tupelo-tess-elephant-slider

Calling all elephant enthusiasts! Did you know elephant population numbers are rapidly declining in the wild? Do you know there are ways YOU can help protect these magnificent animals in the wild? You can start by joining the more than one hundred zoos and thousands of individuals across the country on Friday, August 12 in celebrating World Elephant Day! Guests that wear gray to the zoo will have a chance to win fun door prizes.

Elephants are the largest land mammals in the world and among the most intelligent animals on earth. Unfortunately, Asian elephants are also among the world’s most endangered species. At the turn of the 20th century, more than 100,000 Asian elephants roamed their native habitat. Today, approximately 40,000 Asian elephants remain in the wild. And this number continues to decline due to habitat loss, human-elephant conflict and poaching for their ivory tusks.

Here at the Houston Zoo, we are committed to protecting animals outside of our Zoo gates, and elephants are in serious need of our support. In the past five years, the Houston Zoo has worked closely with partners in both Africa and Asia, funding over $500,000 in field conservation programs.

YOU can help, too! Simply by visiting the Houston Zoo, you help protect animals in the wild – a portion of your admission ticket goes directly to conservation efforts around the world. You can also attend special events throughout the year, such as our Elephant Open House that will be held September 17, 2016 from 8 am – 10:30 am, where registration fees are also donated to conservation efforts.

elephants-outside-playing

A great time to visit the Houston Zoo is World Elephant Day on Friday, August 12, 2016.

World Elephant Day Activities Include:

11 a.m. – 2 p.m.

Find out more about the Houston Zoo’s Asian elephant herd: Thai, Methai, Shanti, Tess, Tucker, Tupelo, Baylor & Duncan

Help keepers decorate enrichment items to give to the elephants throughout the day.

See and have a chance to purchase artwork done by our Pachyderm Picassos!

Learn all about elephant conservation and what YOU can do to help save them in the wild.

Wear gray on your Zoo visit to show your support plus talk with our Zookeepers, while the elephants are outside playing in the yard.

Save Water, Save Wildlife, and Save Money-May 21st Rain Barrel Workshop!

Save water, save money, and save wildlife at the Houston Zoo on May 21st! The Zoo is partnering with the Galveston Bay Foundation to hold a rain barrel workshop from 9:00 a.m.-11:00 a.m. at the Zoo’s Brown Education Center. Your workshop registration includes 1 rain barrel and 1 kit, at a low price of $35! Interested participants can sign up by here.

Rain barrels are a great addition to your home-they can help reduce your water bill by capturing rain water that you can reuse for your lawn and plants all-year long. Reusing rain water helps ensure there is enough water in the future for wildlife (like Houston toads) and people.

Local wildlife like the critically endangered Houston toad can benefit when we reuse water.
Local wildlife like the critically endangered Houston toad can benefit when we reuse water.

The Houston Zoo has several rain barrels to help ensure we reuse water. If you have been to our produce garden in the Children’s Zoo, you may have seen one of our rain barrels.

Children's Zoo rain barrel in the produce garden. Water collected here is reused on nearby plants.
Children’s Zoo rain barrel in the produce garden. Water collected here is reused on nearby plants.

In addition to the rain barrel in the Children’s Zoo, we have 2 rain barrels behind-the-scenes. One is located at our commissary-where all of the diets are prepared daily for our animals. It is located next to another produce garden and collects water to be reused on a variety of plants. Finally, we have a very large, 5,000 gallon rain barrel by our rhino barn. In 2015, this rain barrel alone collected and used nearly 35,000 gallons of water! In Texas, that is the equivalent (by 2013 data) of 1 above-average Texas household’s annual water needs.

You can take action and reuse water in your own backyard by participating in our rain barrel workshop at the Zoo on May 21st from 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. Reusing rain water is a simple action to take that not only helps wildlife, but helps you to save on your water bill! After our workshop, participants will have a chance to paint their rain barrels and enter it into an art contest! Check out some of the decorated rain barrels from previous workshops (photos courtesy of Galveston Bay Foundation rain barrel workshop participants):

imagesimages (1)images (2)

images (3)

Howler Monkeys and Howlerween

Written by Kaitlyn Spross & Willam Weeks 

If you’ve been to the Houston Zoo primate section, you may have visited our awesome black howler monkeys:  Vida, Garcia and Ramone. And chances are they’ve either been asleep, resting in the sun or munching on leaves with what could be described as a ‘frowny’ look on their faces. Zoo guests often comment on our howlers’ pouty appearance. “Why does that howler monkey look that way? It looks so sad! Is that howler monkey judging me!?” The truth is, our howler monkeys aren’t sad at all! They just have on their resting howler face.

Howler 1.1When it comes to their diet, howler monkeys are mainly folivores, which means they eat lots of leaves and plant material. Because leaves are difficult to digest and don’t provide much energy, a howler monkey’s favorite pastime is taking a nice long nap to digest all that greenery. Along with their usual leafy foods, they do enjoy a nice fruit here and there as well. And, they even chow down on an egg once a week.

A howler monkey is at their happiest right after they have eaten; all they do is rest and relax while they absorb all that food. The Houston Zoo howler monkeys certainly live the life of luxury! They get their food delivered every day, and all they have to worry about it is finding the perfect sunny spot to take a six hour siesta.

When the howlers aren’t napping, they can be seen climbing around using their super-cool prehensile tails. A prehensile tail means that their tails are muscular and can be used to grasp things, like branches, which makes them particularly good climbers. Having a prehensile tail is like having an extra limb!

Howler 1.2If you come to the zoo early in the morning, you might even get lucky enough to hear our howlers monkeys howl! Their vocalization sounds like a very low, loud, and rumbling call that can be heard up to 3 miles away! It is a territorial call and also one which encourages the group to bond together as they vocalize.

This October, plan a visit to Zoo Boo Presented by Bank of America and our Howlerween conservation event each weekend.  You can visit our wonderful howler monkeys and learn more about what the Houston Zoo is doing to save howler monkeys in their wild habitat in Belize!

Shasta Is Turning 4!

Written by Samantha Junker, Senior Keeper

Shasta

Turning 4 is a big deal and the Houston Zoo is throwing our cougar, Shasta, a birthday party to remember! We invite our guests to join us for fun, games, and of course singing happy birthday to Shasta as he receives his ice pop cake!

Shasta 2Shasta has dual roles here at the zoo; not only is he an ambassador for wild cougars, but he is also the official mascot of the University of Houston! Shasta VI (his official title) makes appearances at UH games via live webcam and also guards the UH senior rings before the class ring ceremony.

While his roles here keep him busy, Shasta had an uncertain beginning to his life.  Orphaned in the wild at a very young age, it took the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife several days to find him.  He was hiding so well, the searchers had to chirp like a cougar in order to locate him.  Shasta chirped back and was quickly found.  He was hungry and thirsty, but otherwise ok!  Since Shasta was still too young to fend for himself, a forever home was needed and that is where the Houston Zoo stepped in.

Shasta currently resides at the Houston Zoo with a female cougar named Haley, also orphaned in the wild.  Please join us at the cougar exhibit on Sunday, September 27 from 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. to help celebrate everything Shasta!

 

Help Save Elephants in the Wild and Go Gray for World Elephant Day!

Calling all elephant enthusiasts! Did you know elephant population numbers are rapidly declining in the wild? Do you know there are ways YOU can help protect these magnificent animals in the wild? You can start by joining the more than one hundred zoos and thousands of individuals across the country on Wednesday, August 12 in celebrating World Elephant Day!

elephant fam

Elephants are the largest land mammals in the world and among the most intelligent animals on earth. Unfortunately, Asian elephants are also among the world’s most endangered species. At the turn of the 20th century, more than 100,000 Asian elephants roamed their native habitat. Today, approximately 40,000 Asian elephants remain in the wild. And this number continues to decline due to habitat loss, human-elephant conflict and poaching for their ivory tusks.

elephants-outside-playingHere at the Houston Zoo, we are committed to protecting animals outside of our Zoo gates, and elephants are in serious need of our support. In the past five years, the Houston Zoo has worked closely with partners in both Africa and Asia, funding over $500,000 in field conservation programs.

YOU can help, too! Simply by visiting the Houston Zoo, you help protect animals in the wild – a portion of your admission ticket goes directly to conservation efforts around the world. You can also attend special events throughout the year where registration fees are also donated to conservation efforts.

Check out the Houston Zoo website to learn more of how we and YOU can help elephants.

 

A great time to visit the Houston Zoo is World Elephant Day on Wednesday, August 12, 2015.

World Elephant Day Activities Include:

10 a.m. – 2 p.m.

  • See and touch an elephant tooth
  • Find out more about the Houston Zoo’s Asian elephant herd: Thai, Methai, Shanti, Tess, Tucker, Tupelo, Baylor, & Duncan

10 a.m.

  • Daily Elephant Bath at The McNair Asian Elephant Barn

11 a.m. – 1 p.m.

  • Walking tour of the Asian elephant barn for those who Go Gray for World Elephant Day!

Wear gray on your Zoo visit and get an inside look at our state-of-the-art elephant barn, plus talk with our Zookeepers, while the elephants are outside playing in the yard.

Eat Pizza. Save Gorillas!

We have another fun (and tasty) way for you to help save gorillas!papa-johns-pizza-1

This Thursday, May 21, order Papa John’s online, use promo code GORILLA, and $1 of your purchase will be donated to the Houston Zoo’s gorilla conservation program. This offer is valid only on May 21. Order online at www.papajohns.com, and don’t forget to use the promo code GORILLA.

And be sure to visit the gorillas at the Zoo this summer! The new habitat opens this Friday, May 22, and you can experience what makes these animals so wonderful. Up close and incredible.Gorillas Explore Their Habitat

Want to learn how the Houston Zoo helps gorillas in the wild, and how you can, too? Visit houstonzoo.org/gorillas.

And remember, every time you visit the Houston Zoo, you help save animals in the wild!

Binturong Spotlight on Species – Saturday, May 9

This piece written by Sydney Fitzpatrick 


In the forests of southeast Asia there lives a shy animal that is vitally important to its rainforest ecosystem.  It is known by a name most people have heard of, but few people knew really existed.  Interested yet?

binturongThat animal is the binturong, also known as a bearcat, a popular school mascot, though it is neither a bear nor a cat.   It’s most recognized feature is its buttery popcorn scent and it’s very long, prehensile tail.  This grey and black animal spends most of its time in the trees, looking for their favorite foods.  Binturongs are omnivorous, which means that eat both meat and plants.  Binturongs especially love fruit!  And this makes them a very important rainforest animal.  Binturongs eat fruit and as the move through the forest, they poop out the seeds, which can then grow into trees.

But binturongs are in trouble.  They are considered a threatened species and their population is declining.  Their major threats are deforestation and the capturing of binturongs for both meat and as pets!  Throughout southeast Asia, much of the rainforest is being torn down to make room for palm oil plantations.  Palm oil is a vegetable oil that is used in almost 50% of all American processed foods, household products, and body products.  50%!  The amount of forest being cut down to make these plantations is unsustainable and is destroying the habitat of not only binturongs, but animals such as elephants, tigers, and orangutans.  So what can you do?

binturon2

On May 9, the Houston Zoo will be celebrating World Binturong Day!  From 10am – 2pm, guests can come to the grass field between Natural Encounters and the Reptile building to learn about binturongs and how we can help save their home.  We will have activities for the kids, temporary tattoos, stickers, and a variety of animal encounters, including appearances by our resident binturong Hannah!  We will also be welcoming Sammy the Bearkat, the mascot of Sam Houston State University, who will be making a guest appearance in Natural Encounters!

Schedule of events:

10:00 AM:  Hannah the Binturong (Front of Natural Encounters)

10:30 AM:  Sammy the Bearkat (Natural Encounters porch)

1:30 PM:  Hannah the Binturong (Front of Natural Encounters)

Hey Kids! Celebrate Dia del Nino at the Zoo This Sunday

Dia del Nino LogoMany nations throughout the world celebrate Día del Niño, or Children’s Day, to honor and celebrate children who represent the hopes and dreams of every community. This Sunday, April 26 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., we will be joining in the celebration with games, activities and music just for kids!

Visit the booth in the Zoo’s Front Plaza to color a picture of Zoe the Zookeeper and pick up your scavenger hunt that will send you throughout the Zoo looking for Latin American animals. Those who complete this activity can return to the booth for a special prize!

Continue down the Reflection Pool for more games including Pin the Tail on the Donkey, the coloring mural, and learn what howler monkeys eat (and shouldn’t eat!). Zoo volunteers will host a table of interesting biofacts to teach kids about different Latin American species; be sure to stop by and learn some fun facts about these animals. Free airbrush temporary tattoos will also be available – pick your favorite animal and have it painted on your face or arm.

What’s a celebration with music and dancing? We’ll have a DJ on-site playing music and encouraging kids to dance, as well as special Latin dance performances by Ballet Folklorico Azteca de Houston for all to enjoy.

Ballet Folklorico
Ballet Folklorico Azteca de Houston will perform at 11:30, 12:30, and 1:30 at the Reflection Pool.

Plus, there’s MORE! The Children’s Maze will be up, located just past elephants; can you find your way to the end? Visit the Tapir Spotlight on Species event, taking place at the tapir habitat, and learn how the Houston Zoo helps this species in the wild, as well as how YOU can help them, too!

Be sure to also check out these special Meet the Keeper Talks presented by Phillips 66:

    10:15 – Latin American Amphibians (Reptile House)
    10:30 – Caiman Lizard (Reptile House)
    11:00 – Jaguar
    12:00 – Tamarins (Wortham World of Primates)
    1:00 – Tamandua (Natural Encounters)
    1:30 – Prehensile-tailed Porcupine (Naturally Wild Swap Shop in the Children’s Zoo)
    2:00 – Cougar
    2:30 – Brazilian Rainbow Boa (Natural Encounters)
    3:30 – Howler Monkeys (Wortham World of Primates)
    4:00 – New World Monkeys (Natural Encounters Rainforest)

All of these exciting events are included in your Zoo admission and free for Members. We hope to see you at the celebration!

And remember, every time you visit the Houston Zoo, you help save animals in the wild!

Search Blog & Website
[jetpack_subscription_form title="Subscribe to the Blog" subscribe_text="Enter your email address to subscribe and receive new blog posts by email."]
Houston Zoo Facebook Page

This morning, we humanely euthanized our male, 20-year-old jaguar, Kan Balam. Due to the tremendous care provided to him by his keepers and our veterinary team, Kan Balam lived well beyond his expected lifespan. Jaguars expected lifespan in the wild is between 12-15 years.

The carnivore staff and veterinary team made the decision after his quality of life began to decline. Quality care and continuous advances in veterinary medicine extends animals’ lives longer than ever, with most felines in human care living well beyond previous generations. Because of this, all cats, including domestic house cats and jaguars, often spend a significant phase of their lives as older animals, and are at a higher risk for geriatric complications.

Read more about Kan B, and the love his keepers had for him on our blog: www.houstonzoo.org/blog/mourning-loss-geriatric-jaguar-kan-balam/
... See MoreSee Less

3

This morning, we humanely euthanized our male, 20-year-old jaguar, Kan Balam.  Due to the tremendous care provided to him by his keepers and our veterinary team, Kan Balam lived well beyond his expected lifespan. Jaguars expected lifespan in the wild is between 12-15 years. 
 
The carnivore staff and veterinary team made the decision after his quality of life began to decline. Quality care and continuous advances in veterinary medicine extends animals’ lives longer than ever, with most felines in human care living well beyond previous generations. Because of this, all cats, including domestic house cats and jaguars, often spend a significant phase of their lives as older animals, and are at a higher risk for geriatric complications.

Read more about Kan B, and the love his keepers had for him on our blog: https://www.houstonzoo.org/blog/mourning-loss-geriatric-jaguar-kan-balam/

 

Comment on Facebook

Soft kitty, warm kitty, little ball of fur; happy kitty, sleepy kitty, purr purr purr #RIP #bigbangtheory

I know he lived a lot longer due to the excellent care he got at the Zoo.

Aww. When interning in the carnivore dept he was one of my faves. So smart! Ashley remember when Angie was teaching him to do the moonwalk after Michael Jackson passed?

So sorry for the loss of this beautiful creature. Kan Balam.

Is this the one that had the limp?

Thank you Houston Zoo for taking such good care of him and all the animals! I've been going to this zoo since I was little bitty. I always enjoy it.

RIP Kan Balam. You have given the visitors so much pleasure just watching you over these years. You were taken care of by top notch professional handlers, etc.

So sorry for your loss. He was a brilliant cat and he is at peace now and free.

So sorry they had to go through this, a decision that is emotional and difficult, and necessary.

Thank you to you and your staff for the years of quality care given this magnificant creature.

Sending my love to Kan Balam's keepers ❤️ This is the hardest part of our jobs 💔

We just saw Kan Balam on Monday😔.... he will be missed❤️

I am so sorry for your loss, each of these animals are precious ....

This was my daughters favorite critter at the Zoo. We always went to say hello to him before anyone else whenever we went. When she was 7 years old we sent a post out to out neighborhood on Halloween saying Paisley was asking for pocket change donations in lieu of candy for Halloween and all amounts would be donated to Kan thru the zoo. She raised over $40 in coins! I still have the letter from the zoo thanking her for her donation. He was a sweet boy and will be missed. 😔

Hugs to all of you keepers that took special care of Kan Balam.

Awe, I’m so sad to hear his quality of life was declining. But, I’m happy to know he had a long and wonderful life thanks to the wonderful teams at the Houston Zoo. He was a beautiful cat.

I'm so sorry for your loss. Thanks for taking such great care of him so he was able to live a long life. My thoughts are with his keepers and all who adored him. <3

Heartfelt condolences to the veterinary and keeper staff. Thank you for taking care of him

Katie Rose Buckley-Jones I won’t ever forget the time you asked him to bring something and he ripped off a piece of cardboard and tried to hand it to you ❤️ thank you for introducing me to him. Sending you guys many hugs

The Houston Zoo staff has lost several animals this year and I am sure each one is so hard to go through.

Thank you for providing him with a caring and enriched life. So sorry for your loss!

My thoughts of sympathy are with you all. I can't even imagine the sadness you feel today.

So sorry to read this. It is always a hard decision. RIP and run free sweet boy.

I’m so sorry for your loss. He was a beautiful cat.

So sad. Native Houstonian. He was one of my favorites.

+ View more comments

Social Media Guy to Sea Lion Keeper: Can you send me a pic of you working with the sea lions in this chilly weather?

Sea Lion Keeper: Sure... (sends picture next to sea lion statue)

SMG: I'm still using this.
... See MoreSee Less

1

Social Media Guy to Sea Lion Keeper: Can you send me a pic of you working with the sea lions in this chilly weather?

Sea Lion Keeper: Sure... (sends picture next to sea lion statue)

SMG: Im still using this.

 

Comment on Facebook

Are there some zoo animals that enjoy this weather?

SMG is another reason why Houston Zoo is the best Zoo!

Happy New Year “sea lion keeper “ 💖💖

More snow for TJ and Max ❤️ lucky them!

Are we positive that’s the statue rather than it really just being that cold? 😛

That’s my best friend Sophie for ya! 😂

Brrrrr

Omg the Zoo is so awesome 😂😂😂 Alana Berry

Omg be warm sweetoe

Haha!! Good one!

Sweetie 💞

Ashley Jucker 😂

Mike DePope

+ View more comments

We've heard of stalagmites but is stalagmice a thing? ... See MoreSee Less

1

Weve heard of stalagmites but is stalagmice a thing?

 

Comment on Facebook

Ok, it took me a minute to get this. I was literally zooming in to try to find the mouse. 🤦🏻‍♀️🙄😂

Cindy Christina Angela Ramirez see I told y’all! Lol

Andrew Kaufmann Look its Richard Jr! 😂

Wow ... good photo shot ... show the world that you need to protect your pipe ... if not, freezing water will expand the pipe and crack the pipe !!!

“Baby it’s cold outside!”

My gutters had glaciers in them!

I fell for the mouse thing too..

That's nothing! Talk to keepers from the northern states or Canada!

i was honestly looking for a mouse lol

Wow,that is so neat!

Annecia Wesley but where is the ice bacon? Lol

Johnnie R. Summerlin, cool, see the "stalagm ice"?

Two words. Pipe insulation.

That’s awesome!

Ana Rivers Smith cool!

Cortez

Pauline Ervin

Denise Daigre

Ashley Nguyen

Vicente Gonzalez

+ View more comments

Animals In Action

Recent Videos

Oops, something went wrong.