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!

Celebrate Tapirs with Us: Tapir SOS

Post by Mary Fields
This weekend, April 25th and 26th, the Houston Zoo will be holding a Tapir Spotlight on Species from 10:00 am until 3:00 pm. Throughout the day we will have fun activities for everyone to play, a photo-op with our “camera trap”, and a chance for you to help enrich our very own tapir, Noah!


While we celebrate tapirs, we will also be celebrating Día del Niño, or Children’s Day. There are four species of tapir, including three Latin American species, Baird’s, Lowland, and Mountain. The Malayan tapir is the fourth species and only species that is located in Asia.

The Houston Zoo is home to Noah, a Baird’s tapir. You will often see Noah sleeping during the day as tapirs are known to be “crepuscular”. Crepuscular means that their activity levels are highest during dusk and dawn or when the temperatures are cooler. Noah also has a large pool for him to take a dip in and is often seen submerged in the deep end on hot summer days.

The Houston Zoo is partnered with the Tapir Specialist Group to support field research of these incredible animals. Come by our tapir yard to learn all about tapirs and how the Houston Zoo helps them in the wild.


East Texas Herpetological Society – March 2015 Meeting

Join us for the East Texas Herpetological Society’s March 2015 meeting at the Houston Zoo. This event is free and open to the public!

EMMA-CanebrakeWho: Guest Speaker – Tim Cole
When: Saturday, March 21, 2015
Where: The Houston Zoo – Brown Education Building
6200 Hermann Park Drive Houston, TX 77030

– Refreshments at 7:00 PM
– Talk Begins at 7:30 PM

Part of this meeting will cover the Texas Rattlesnake Festival. This event features educational talks, over 45 subspecies of rattlesnakes, venom extraction show, scavenger hunt, face painting, photo booth, vendors, and more. This is a family(and snake-friendly) event in Round Rock, TX that features rattlesnakes and works to teach about these species which are often misunderstood. 

Learn More About the East Texas Herpetological Society

Turtle Tuesday!

Yesterday, Houston Zoo staff participated in NOAA’s weekly beach survey, looking for injured or sick sea turtles on Bolivar Peninsula, Galveston Island and all the way to Surfside! This survey can take anywhere from 9-15 hours, but is vital in ensuring that any sea turtles on our local beaches are accounted for, and cared for if need be.

It was a cold and blustery day, and while we did not encounter any sea turtles we came across several deceased rays and HUGE jellyfish! Unfortunately, all of the jellyfish were already dead but they were fascinating to look at and study. We still do not know what species of jellyfish we encountered all over the beaches, so if you know-please tell us in the comments section below.

Giant jellyfish on the Texas Coast!
Giant jellyfish on the Texas Coast!
View from above. Can anyone identify this species?
View from above. Can anyone identify this species?

Spending time on our local beaches can provide some amazing insight into the species that live in our oceans, but we rarely have the opportunity to see. Unfortunately, jellyfish like the ones above look very similar to plastic bags floating in the ocean. They have similar movement patterns, floating up and down in the water column. Many sea turtles species mistake these plastic bags for a common food source of theirs (jellyfish) and consume them. We can all make a difference for sea turtles, sea birds, sharks and other marine species by avoiding the use of plastic bags and only using reusable bags. Check out our “This bag saved a sea turtle” or “This bag saved a sea lion” reusable bags in the Zoo’s gift shop-all proceeds from the sale of these bags go directly back to marine animals in the wild.

Sea turtle canvas bags available in our gift shop. All proceeds go towards sea turtles in the wild.
Sea turtle canvas bags available in our gift shop. All proceeds go towards sea turtles in the wild.

Another way to help is to join us for Save a Turtle Saturday on March 7th from 9:00am-1:00pm. Visit the Zoo during this special event to learn how the Houston Zoo works to save turtles around the world, and find out how you can make a difference to your local turtles. Save a Turtle Saturday focuses on the threats and dangers facing marine and land-based turtles around the world. During Save a Turtle Saturday, guests and children can participate in a variety of games and activities to learn more about the threats turtles face, and how you can help! All activities are free with Zoo admission.

Happy First Birthday Duncan!

Written by Andrea Pohlman

On February 7th, the Houston Zoo’s elephant care team celebrated Duncan’s 1st birthday! With help from the Zoo’s commissary staff, the elephants were treated to birthday cakes made with soaked grain and frosted in peanut butter.

Streamers and a banner were hung in the elephant exhibit, and a wrapped present was hung for Duncan to play with. Duncan’s birthday cake was decorated with kale, broccoli and a number “1” made out of strawberries.

After their morning bath, Duncan and 24-year old mom Shanti entered the exhibit, and a large crowd of zoo guests began singing “Happy Birthday”. Shanti and Duncan paused to take in the sights, smells and sounds of the birthday celebration. Shanti pulled down streamers and waved them through the air as she and Duncan approached the cake.  They took their time and ate every last bite. Next was Duncan’s wrapped present hanging from a nearby pole. Shanti helped him unwrap it, and like all kids, Duncan was much more entertained by the wrapping paper than what was underneath of it. He used the paper to scratch between his legs and belly, stepped on it and even kicked it.

duncan-bday-resizeThe elephant care team ensured the rest of the herd enjoyed Duncan’s birthday as well. Tucker and Duncan’s big brother Baylor enjoyed a cake that featured a dragon on top made from carved fruits and vegetables.

At birth, Duncan weighed in at 385 pounds. Today he weighs close to 1,400 pounds (if you are keeping track, that is a 1,000 pound gain in a year!) Duncan is still nursing, but he also eats solid foods with the herd and during his daily training sessions with the elephant care team.

Duncan still spends much of his day keeping very close to his mom, Shanti. When he is feeling more independent, big sister Tupelo keeps a close eye on him to make sure he stays out of trouble.

Stop by and visit Duncan, Shanti, and all of our other elephants at the McNair Asian Elephant Habitat during their daily 10:00 AM bath at the elephant barn!

2014 TXU Energy Houston Turkey Calling Contest at the Zoo

TXU TURKEY TROtA gaggle of your favorite local news media personalities is headed to the Houston Zoo and we hope you will join them.

The annual TXU Energy Houston Turkey Calling Contest returns to the Houston Zoo on Saturday, Nov. 15. Local TV, radio and print personalities will be on hand to flap their elbows and belt out their best turkey gobble. The TXU Energy Houston Turkey Trot is the largest Thanksgiving footrace and it benefits more than 192,000 seniors and children that Neighborhood Centers serves each year.

 The media personality who delivers the best turkey call will be honored with a tree planting in the city and zoo guests will be invited to join the turkey call to win their own prizes.

 The turkey calling contest kicks off at 10 a.m. at the Butterfly Stage in the Children’s Zoo.

 The TXU Energy Houston Turkey Trot features competitive and fun 10K, 5K and wheelchair races as well as a kid’s play area, food and friendly visitors from our zoo.

 SPECIAL REGISTRATION RATE – As a friend of the Zoo, you and your immediate family have the opportunity to register for the TXU Energy Houston Turkey Trot at a 20 percent discounted rate through Nov. 26. Register here and use promotion code ZOO2014TROT to take advantage of this offer.

Attend Zoo Boo & Learn How to Help Animals in the Wild!

Our annual Zoo Boo event is a Houston favorite…costumes, candy, zoo animals, tatzoos, you name it-we have it! But did you know that this event includes incredibly fun activities for kids and families to help save animals in the wild?!

Visit us at Zoo Boo this year and learn how you are helping the Zoo to save animals in the wild!
Visit us at Zoo Boo this year and learn how you are helping the Zoo to save animals in the wild!

Zoe the Zookeeper’s Howlerween Adventure has been part of Zoo Boo for many years now, calling attention to how howler monkeys are doing in the wild and highlighting how our Primate Staff have helped secure a future for these primates in their natural habitat. This year, this interactive section of Zoo Boo has been expanded to include activities, games and information about all of the rehabilitation and release programs the Houston Zoo is involved in. This means you can learn about how we rehabilitate and release sea turtles and howler monkeys, as well as breed and release Attwater’s prairie chickens and Houston toads!

On this fun adventure (located next to Duck Lake) you’ll learn how to keep a sea turtle’s home clean, what food a howler monkey should eat, where the Attwater’s prairie chicken lives in the wild, and how Houston toads communicate! You may even be lucky enough to get a special surprise if you complete all 4 activities! Not only is this fun, it is another way for you, our guests and members, to learn how you are helping us to make a difference for animals in the wild. Without your continued support we would not be able to do what we do for howler monkeys, sea turtles, Houston toads, Attwater’s prairie chickens and many other species. So, thank you! We hope to see you at the last weekend of Zoo Boo!

Kids enjoying the Zoe the Zookeeper's Howlerween Adventure activities at Zoo Boo!
Kids enjoying Zoe the Zookeeper’s Howlerween Adventure activities at Zoo Boo!

Zoo Boo will be open October 25 & 26 from 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Thank You for Making Get Out and Play a Success!


On Saturday, September 6, we hosted Get Out and Play Presented by Kelsey-Seybold Clinics. This Zoo-wide event challenged families to put down the electronics and enjoy the outdoors through exciting and fun games and activities for children and adults. We wanted to say a big THANK YOU to Kelsey-Seybold Clinics, McDonald’s, and United for sponsoring this fantastic event.

Since our lives can be consumed by smart phones, video games, laptops, tablets and countless other electronic devices, it’s important to step away and take a breath of fresh air (literally!). Even though the Get Out and Play Presented by Kelsey-Seybold Clinics event has passed for this year, we encourage you to spend a few extra minutes outdoors and appreciate the beauty and health benefits of being outside.

Soon the weather will get a little cooler, and we have some fun ideas to get your kiddos outdoors:

Campout at Home

Supplies: Tent and sleeping bags.
Purpose: Outdoor experience for the very young ones, or those not ready to camp away from home.
This one is super easy, and great for those young campers who might not be old enough to camp away from home. Set up a tent in the back yard with the kids and sleep under the stars! You can tell scary or funny stories, read books by flash light, and more(get creative)! If the kiddos don’t enjoy it, you can always head right back inside. This is a great activity because you never have to worry about strange places or dirty campground bathrooms.

Lawn and Order

Supplies: TV and extended cabling if needed.
Purpose: Outdoor time for those kiddos who have a hard time putting down the electronics
If your little ones have a hard time putting down the electronics and getting outside, we have a suggestion for you. With a little prep, this activity can be a great way to enjoy the outdoors with the family. Set up the TV outside and watch a movie with the family from the comfort of sleeping bags and chairs in your backyard. If moving the TV all the way outside is too tough, try to move it close to a window and open the window to the backyard. Make some popcorn and watch your movie in the fresh air. This can be a great way to introduce the little ones into the importance of fresh air and being outside. It’s a great compromise for those who just can’t disconnect!

Got more outdoor ideas? Let us know in the comments! Thanks again to Kelsey-Seybold Clinics, McDonald’s, and United for making Get Out and Play 2014 such a huge success!

The Day is almost here!

The count down is on – Trader Appreciation Day is almost here!

The Naturally Wild Swap Shop
The Naturally Wild Swap Shop

On Saturday, August 16, 2014, from 9AM to 3PM we will be celebrating the Naturally Wild Swap Shop’s five year anniversary by honoring all the traders that have made it such a success.

Anyone trading during the event will receive 100 extra points.   We will also have some amazing doorprizes throughout the day.  Door prizes will include items from our fossil, mineral, bone, insect and shell collections.

We will have lots of special guests, too.  There will be booths for  TheTexas Marine Mammal Stranding

Penny is one of our animal ambassadors you might see in the shop
Penny is one of our animal ambassadors you might see in the shop

Network, Texas Parks and Wildlife Bat Team,  Houston Zoo’s own Horticulture team, and crafts for the kids.  You can be on the lookout for special animal guests in the shop that day, also.

Dont know about The Naturally Wild Swap Shop?  Click here for more information.

Trader Appreciation Day

The Naturally Wild Swap Shop
The Naturally Wild Swap Shop

Five years ago this August, the Naturally Wild Swap Shop made its debut in the McGovern Children’s Zoo.  Over that 5 year time span, the shop has grown by leaps and bounds.  We now have over 4,000 traders and continue to grow.

To celebrate this anniversary and to thank all the traders who have made the shop such a success, we will be hosting Trader Appreciation Day on Saturday, August 16, 2014 from 9AM to 3PM.

Checking out the shells
Checking out the shells

We will have lots of special things going on!  Anyone trading during the event will receive 100 extra points.  In addition, we will have  door prize drawings each half hour for those who trade that day.

Studying items up close

Door prizes will include items from our fossil, mineral, insect, bone and shell collections.  There will also be some special guests here.  We will have the Texas Parks and Wildlife Bat Team, the Marine Mammal Stranding Network, the Houston Zoo Horticulture Team and more.  You can be on the lookout for animal ambassadors and keeper chats in the Shop too.

Come on out and join the fun!

Don’t know about the Naturally Wild Swap Shop?  Click here for more information.


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