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.
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!
Who: Guest Speaker – Tim Cole When: Saturday, March 21, 2015 Where: The Houston Zoo – Brown Education Building
6200 Hermann Park Drive Houston, TX 77030
Details: – 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The 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!
A 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.
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?!
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!
Zoo Boo will be open October 25 & 26 from 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
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 count down is on – Trader Appreciation Day is almost here!
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
Back on the 2nd of February , I de-mystified GroundHog’s Day for you. Big fan of the rodent – just not his or her holiday. Today we tackle the Easter Bunny from a Lagomorph’s (taxonomic order including rabbits and hares) point of view. Later in the year I will explain why Guinea Pigs should also have their own holiday.
To start with – this is a non-denominational blog neither leaning towards the bunny, nor the chocolate easter egg. Disclaimer – DO NOT feed your pet bunny chocolate under any circumstances. Simply put – in ancient times (before the 1970’s) and in the ancient world (before the 1960’s), the rabbit has long been a symbol of fertility. The rabbit is known for its reproductive prowess. In Europe prior to the introduction of Christianity the ancient pagans already had their own springtime festivals, as did almost all other ancient peoples. Because spring is the time, after the harshness of winter that the world begins to bloom once more, it is seen as a time of replenishing and renewal, birth and rebirth, fertility. So there you have it – the rabbit symbolizes rebirth.
Rabbits and Hares – ok – these are two different animals completely and we will not get into the Pikas of which are cute but will add to the potential confusion. Hares and Jackrabbits belong to the family Lepus (Night of the Lepus was a great film from the 70’s where giant mutated jackrabbits turned over trailer homes. This of course was based on the novel The Year of the Angry Rabbit), and their young are called leverets. Hares do not bear young below ground but in a shallow depression which is why people so often come across baby hares while meandering through fields of wildflowers (when was the last time you meandered anywhere?).
All rabbits (except the cottontail rabbits) live underground in burrows or warrens, while hares (and cottontail rabbits) live in simple nests above the ground, and usually do not live in groups. Rabbit young are called kits. Rabbits are clearly distinguished from hares in that rabbits are altricial, having young that are born blind and hairless. In contrast, hares are generally born with hair and are able to see (precocial).
Hares are generally larger than rabbits, with longer ears, and have black markings on their fur. Hares have not been domesticated, while rabbits are often kept as house pets. Hares can run at speeds of up to 40 miles per hour – could you handle this running around your home? No, that’s why rabbits are pets, not hares.
Invasive Pests: Rabbits have been a source of environmental problems when introduced into the wild by humans. As a result of their appetites, and the rate at which they breed, wild rabbit depredation can be problematic for agriculture. Rabbits in Australia are considered to be such a pest that land owners are legally obliged to control them
Cultural Folklore – rabbits and hares seem to play a role in many cultures beliefs beyond the chocolate egg theory.
Somewhere in Central Africa, “Kalulu” the rabbit is widely known as a tricky character, getting the better of bargains.
In Aztec mythology, a pantheon of four hundred rabbit gods known as Centzon Totochtin led by Ometotchtli or Two Rabbit, represented fertility, parties, and drunkenness. This last part probably led to that particular myth.
A Korean myth presents rabbits living on the moon making rice cakes. That’s one handy space rabbit.
Associated with the Chinese New Year (2014 is Year of the Horse), Rabbits are one of the twelve celestial animals in the Chinese Zodiac. It is noted that the Vietnamese lunar new year replaced the rabbit with a cat in their calendar, as rabbits did not inhabit Vietnam. Thirteen years ago, a new species of rabbit was discovered in Vietnam, the Annamite rabbit – time for them to change their calendars back.
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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.
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.
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. 😔
I saw him limping about 2 weekends ago. The first time we walked by he was fine. When we walked by on the way out he was limping and moaning pretty loudly. I wondered what happened but I figured his keeper already knew or would find out shortly. Super Sad. He was always a lively one.
Dunno if the Zoo staff considered him a pet but he was certainly a family member, and because of that i offer this:
Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.
When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge. There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together. There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.
All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor. Those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by. The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.
They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent. His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.
You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.
Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together....
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.
Is this the one that had the limp?
Jaguars are one of my favorite and he seems like a sweet boy. I'm so sad but I'm happy he can be painless and be free now. RIP❤️
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?
Beautiful jaguar ....so grateful for the Houston Zoo keepers and veterinary team that gave their time and efforts to share this awesome jaguar with us for so many years.
Thank you for doing what was right and kind for Kan Balam even though it was hard and painful for you. That’s true love for an animal. ❤️
Run free in the heavens, your limp is no more. Prayers for all his caretakers at the Houston Zoo
What a great long life he lived because of his excellent care at the zoo Thoughts go out to his keepers and the entire Houston Zoo staff
Sending love to the keepers that are broken hearted right now. And thank you for all the care you’ve given.
Thinking of you all. What an amazing life he had thanks to the dedication of the zoo staff! ❤️
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.
Thank you to you and your staff for the years of quality care given this magnificant creature.
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
I am soo sorry for the loss of this handsome fella Kan Balam. May he rest in peace and run free or any pain over the rainbow bridge.. My heart and prayers go out to each and every one of the staff at the Zoo.
Aww, so very sorry for your loss, Houston. Condolences to his keepers and all who loved him. ((((Lorie Fortner)))) He surely lived a long life with the great care he received at Houston.
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
He was well-cared for and most of all well-loved. My heartfelt condolences to those missing Kan B as well as me. What an amazing ambassador for his kind. What a beautiful old gentleman. Thank you for loving him into old age and giving him peace.
So sorry to the keeping staff for your loss i cant imagine how youre feeling :( his old age is a testimony to the amazing care he received
I will miss him. The last time I saw him he looked tired, and it appeared his foot was bothering him.
Sad to hear of this. Thanks for taking such good and compassionate care for him and the other animals.