With Your Support, the Houston Zoo is Providing Shelter for Cold-Stunned Butterflies

 

Monarch butterflies are perhaps one of the most well known butterfly species thanks to the legendary monarch butterfly migration that takes place each year. These tiny insects can travel up to 3,000 miles annually in search of a warm and cozy place to call home for the winter. Their destination? Mexico! Here in Texas we are lucky enough to be in the middle of one of the monarch migration pathways, so each summer and fall we witness these beautiful butterflies all around town. But what happens when our flying friends get caught in an unexpected cold spell?

Generally, butterflies won’t fly if it is below 55 degrees, and if the temperature falls below 40, they lose their ability to crawl. There have been documented occasions where a rare snowfall has taken place in their winter roosting areas in Mexico, but most are able to survive this because they are sheltered by forest cover. Those that do not receive this shelter can survive in the snow for a while due to the natural insulation snow provides, but extremely low temperatures can be life threatening, especially if the butterflies are wet and ice crystals form on their wings.  That being said, when the latest cold front hit Houston, everyone on Zoo grounds was on high alert looking for monarchs in need of help. Staff in the Children’s Zoo set up a butterfly tent in the Swap Shop as a refuge, and sure enough, reports of cold-stunned butterflies started coming in. So far, butterflies have been brought to the Swap Shop for shelter and warmth by members of the Horticulture and Children’s Zoo staff, as well as Zoo guests. When the butterflies were first brought to our team of caretakers, they weren’t moving, and one was even thought to be dead. Fortunately, after a little bit of time in the warmth, they began to warm up their bodies by shivering and fluttering their wings.  The team will continue to care for these butterflies until warmer weather returns and it is safe for them to be released back into the wild. 

For the past two years, Houston Zoo staff and volunteers have been taking part in field work here on Zoo grounds by tagging monarch butterflies. If you have visited recently, you may have seen small groups walking through the Zoo with nets, in search of butterflies. Tagging is an extremely useful tool, as it can provide information about how and where the animal travels. Because all the migrating monarchs are concentrated in just a few locations during the winter, they are especially vulnerable to harsh weather and to human activities that disrupt or destroy their habitat. This can reduce the number of monarchs that leave the overwintering sites in the spring, and a reduction in milkweed and nectar sources can cause a decline in the number of monarchs that make it to Mexico for the winter. By tagging the monarchs and tracking their movements, protection plans can be set up in key areas that will help to ensure their survival. 93 monarch butterflies have been tagged on zoo grounds since 2016 as part of a project run by Monarch Watch.

While we all do our best to stay warm this winter, don’t forget to keep an eye out for monarchs that may need your help! Each time you visit the zoo, a portion of your admission ticket goes towards saving wildlife, which makes it possible for us to help local species like the monarch butterfly! If you are on Zoo grounds and see a cold-stunned butterfly, notify a staff member and they will help you get it safely to the Swap Shop. You can help pollinators like the monarch butterfly in your own backyard by planting native plants. Not sure what to plant? On your next visit to the Houston Zoo stop by the Conservation Stage, located to the right as soon as you enter. The Conservation Stage is lined with native plants and signs letting you know what each plant is! Simply take a picture of the sign and bring it with you when you go to the nursery to buy your plants! For more information on how to raise and protect monarchs and other butterflies, click here.

 

 

iNaturalist at the Houston Zoo

Ever see some interesting wildlife at the zoo? That sounds like a funny question but, I’m not talking about the Zoo’s animal collection.  What native wildlife have you seen as you go through the zoo?  Birds, butterflies, bees and other visiting animals just passing through?  What about interesting plants growing on Zoo grounds?

There is now an iNaturalist project called Native Wildlife at the Houston Zoo. Photographs were first uploaded by our Collegiate Conservation Program to start the  guide to native wildlife as you enjoy the zoo.

The Collegiate Conservation Program at the Houston Zoo is a 10 week intern program generously sponsored by ExxonMobil. The program focuses on two important aspects of conservation – saving animals in the wild and sharing the conservation message.  The program participants must be currently enrolled undergrad students and commit to 30-35 hours weekly for the 10 weeks of the program.  The interns work with various regional conservation partners around the city learning from the experts about what they do to help save wildlife.  They also spend time on zoo grounds handling animals and sharing our Take Action messages with guests.  Want to learn more about our Collegiate Conservation Program?  Click here.

Now that the interns have added photos to the project, you can now not only learn from the observations already in there, you can add your own observations too!

iNaturalist is a wonderful program to engage people with nature. You can build your own life list or even a project for your area.  Not sure what something is?  Not to worry!  iNaturalist allows other members to comment on your post to help with the ID.  The iNaturalist program will choose the taxon with at least 2/3 agreement to automatically ID the post.  It is easy to navigate – your Dashboard is like your Facebook feed.  You can follow other members and see what they post.  You can access iNaturalist online or in a handy app you can download to your phone.  You can see what other things have been posted in the area by looking at observations or places, and can even search by taxon if you are looking for something specific.  The Help section of the program has an awesome FAQ guide and Getting Started guide to help you learn the ins and outs of iNaturalist too. You will find the Native Wildlife at the Houston Zoo by going to projects in the app or on line and searching on that project title.

Another added bonus to using the Native Wildlife at the Houston Zoo project is it can earn you points in the Naturally Wild Swap Shop! If you add a photo to the project, stop by the Swap Shop and show the Naturalist what you have added.  You will earn points for your posts!  Don’t know about the Naturally Wild Swap Shop?  Click here to learn more.

Helping Monarch Butterflies at Home

Many of you know that the Houston Zoo staff works on many conservation projects in the field.  Our staff travels to Africa, Panama, Galapagos Islands and more to help save animals in the wild.  Recently, two of our staff members, Rodney Honerkamp and I, went on a different kind of conservation trip.  A monarch conservation visit right in our area!

Demi and one of her beautiful Monarchs
Demi and one of her beautiful Monarchs

We were privileged to go to the home of Houston Zoo Asante Society members, Ron and Demi Rand in Pearland.  Demi raises and rescues monarch butterflies and has all stages of their life cycle from egg to adult.  A lot of her time is spent tending to the many plants in her gardens that feed the butterflies and bees that visit her yard.  Her gardens have two types of milkweed, among other pollinator host plants, and have attracted at least six different types of butterflies, multiple species of bees and even moths at night.

Monarch eggs ready to hatch
Monarch eggs ready to hatch

 

 

 

 

 

Why is the work Demi does for monarchs so important?  Butterflies, along with bees,

bats and other animals, are pollinators.  A huge percentage of all the food we eat, the cotton used to make our clothes, even coffee and chocolate rely on pollinators.  Without pollinators we would lose all those things and more.  This year alone Demi has tagged and released over 1,000 butterflies.  The tags are

a small sticker placed on the wing and the information on the sticker is sent to Monarch Watch.

Recently, Houston Zoo staff and volunteers took part in field work on grounds tagging monarchs.  They tagged 23 monarchs this season!  That means there are 23 more monarchs that can be tracked on their 3,000 mile migration to Mexico.

Monarch caterpillar ready for a close up
Monarch caterpillar ready for a close up

Monarch Watch is a non-profit, education, conservation and research program based at the University of Kansas.  They have information on tagging monarchs along with biology and rearing.  They provide information about gardening for monarchs and conduct research projects on things like larval monitoring and monarch flight vectors.

There are several other resources you can use to learn more.  In addition to Monarch Watch, check out TVbutterfly.org to learn about a monarch way station that one of Demi’s “Monarch Sisters”, Dr. Amy Harkins has built at the Tuscany Village Skilled Nursing and Rehabilitation in Pearland, TX.  Monarch Gateway  monarchgateway.org and the International Butterfly Breeders Association butterflybreeders.org are also great sites.

Facebook has some groups dedicated to monarchs also like the group The Beautiful Monarch.

Sometimes, you pick up a hitchhiker
Sometimes, you pick up a hitchhiker

The day we went to visit Demi and Ron, we were able to watch as 11 Monarchs were tagged and released.  This was the reward after weeks of hard work for Demi.  She collects eggs she finds on her milkweed and rinses them in a 5% bleach solution to combat the OE parasite (Ophryocystis elektroscirrha) that has been attacking monarchs.  This parasite does the most damage in the pupal stage.

Pollinator garden information
Pollinator garden information

The affected butterflies can have difficulty emerging or fall to the ground before they fully expand their wings. It takes 4-5 days for the eggs to hatch and then she needs to be sure the caterpillars have plenty of milkweed to eat.  The caterpillars will eat voraciously for 2 to 3 weeks then they will pupate into their chrysalis.  Demi monitors the chrysalis closely over the 7 to 10 days it takes for the butterfly to emerge.  Once they emerge they live in a protected enclosure until they are dry and their wings are fully stretched out.  At that point she is able to tag them and release them.  If any emerge with issues that prevent them from flying, she has a special enclosure for those butterflies so they will have nectar readily available.

 

Dr. Amy recording the information from the tags
Dr. Amy recording the information from the tags

How can you help?  Plant your own pollinator garden!  You can even work towards having it registered with Monarch Watch as a monarch way station.  It will be a place for the migrating monarchs to stop and refuel on their journey south. If you don’t know what to plant, just stop by our conservation stage at the zoo.  It is to your right as you come in.  You will find signage about native plants to attract butterflies.  Simply take a picture of the sign and take it with you to the nursery where you buy your plants.

This Monarch has its tag and is ready to go
This Monarch has its tag and is ready to go

You can also get involved at the Houston Zoo.  Take a picture of your pollinator garden at home and bring the pictures to the Naturally Wild Swap Shop.  You will be registered as a Pollinator Pal and receive points to spend in the shop.  Also, be on the lookout for pollinators on zoo grounds.  If you get a picture of a pollinator on grounds you can also bring that to the Swap Shop for points and be registered as a

Pollinator Pal.  Show the Naturalist in the shop the picture and tell them which of the zoo’s gardens you saw it in.  Don’t know about the Naturally Wild Swap Shop?  Click here for more information.

Nature Journals Made Easy

Have you ever been out in nature and found something you thought was amazing?  Ever wish you had a way to get your kids more engaged with nature?  The Houston Zoo has a way to help!

Nature journals are a great way to explore and learn about nature.  Kids (and adults too!) can write about, sketch, or paint things seen in nature.  It is a great way to document what you have seen and you can even go back later to research if you want to learn more about a particular item.

Journal pages from Scratchmadejournal.com
Journal pages from Scratchmadejournal.com.

There is a wonderful website and blog at scratchmadejournal.com  with a lot of great information on nature journaling.  The author  even has some printable pages to get you started!  Click here to check out her awesome blog and get some amazing ideas about nature journals.  She includes examples, recommendations on supplies, and a list of places to find more help and examples.  Included on her blog are posts geared towards nature journaling specifically for kids.  You don’t have to be a award winning artist or write like a novelist – just record what you see and add sketches as you see fit.  And the more you journal, the better they get!

Even a simple drawing can enhance your Nature Journal
Even a simple drawing can enhance your Nature Journal

Do you know the best benefit to nature journals?  Kids 18 and younger can bring their nature journals to the Naturally Wild Swap Shop to earn points!  The points can be used in the shop to get some amazing things like bones, shells, minerals or even a re-usable bag that kids can take home and enjoy.  Need more information on the Naturally Wild Swap Shop?  Click here to learn more.

Texas Pollinator BioBlitz

The first ever Texas Pollinator BioBlitz will be taking place from October 7th to October 16th.  This is a statewide effort to observe and identify as many pollinators, and pollinator habitats as possible and the Houston Zoo will be participating!

How can you participate at the zoo?

Monarch Butterfly
Monarch Butterfly

First, take pictures of any pollinators you see and the plants you see them on around the zoo. Some of the pollinators you might see are butterflies, honey bees, and bumblebees.  Then, take those pictures to the Naturally Wild Swap Shop and you will be registered as a Pollinator Pal and will receive 50 points to spend in the shop.  Don’t know about the Naturally Wild Swap Shop?  Click here for more information.

Second, you can share your photos or videos of the pollinators on Instagam or iNaturalist. On Instagram, posts should include #SaveThePollinators.

Why are pollinators so important to us? They make our daily lives better in so many ways!  Without pollinators we would lose much of the fruit and vegtables we eat every day.  We would also lose chocolate,

Cotton
Cotton

coffee, tequila even cotton.  Our meat would be effected too because we would lose the plants that the cattle and other animals eat.

 

Come out to explorer your Houston Zoo and help us save pollinators.

Pollination Station Arrives

Check out the new amazing Pollination Station in the Children’s Zoo!  What is a Pollination Station?  Just think of it as an insect hotel.

Before
Before

 

You will notice that many different materials were used in our Pollination Station’s making.  This allows many different insects to use the different shape openings to lay their eggs.

30% of all North American bees use some kind of tunnel in which to lay their eggs.  Providing a food source and houses for these bees is very important in the efforts to help our pollinators.

A huge percentage of our food crops rely on pollinators.  Without our pollinators, we could lose nuts, spices, many fruits and vegetables, cotton, alfalfa and even chocolate.  75% of flowering plants and over

Pollination Station in progress
Pollination Station in progress

30% of our food crops rely on pollinators.

What kinds of insects will be making this palace their home?  Wasps, dragonflies, bees, moths, and spiders.

The next time you are in the Children’s Zoo, check out the Pollination Station next to the Naturally Wild Swap Shop.  And, if you have planted pollinator plants in your own gardens, bring a report or pictures to the Swap Shop for points and you can be registered as a Pollinator Pal.

The finished Pollination Station
The finished Pollination Station

 

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

Pollinator Pals in the Naturally Wild Swap Shop

Meet the first of the Houston Zoo’s Pollinator Pals!

 Ollie, Drake and Ginger are regular traders in the Naturally Wild Swap Shop, and now they are also Pollinator Pals! They each picked out the plant they wanted to grow and what pollinators they wanted to attract. Ollie planted hyacinth bean to attract hummingbirds, Drake planted passion flower vine to attract gulf fritillary butterflies, and Ginger planted milkweed to attract monarch butterflies.

Drake planting passion flower
Drake planting passion flower

Pollinators are extremely important to us, and they are declining. Our lives would be severely impacted by the loss of any of our pollinators. Many of the foods we eat rely on pollinators.  Fruits, vegetables, nuts, spices, cotton, alfalfa (for the cattle we rely on), honey, coffee, agave, chocolate and more!

Ginger gives a thumbs up for her milkweed seeds
Ginger gives a thumbs up for her milkweed seeds

How does one become a Pollinator Pal? Plant a pollinator garden! It can be as small as a potted plant or as large as a full scale garden. Once your garden is planted, take some pictures and bring a report about it to the Swap Shop to earn points. Then as

Check out Ollie's hyacinth bean seeds
Check out Ollie’s hyacinth bean seeds

your garden grows and attracts pollinators, bring in reports on what you have seen and how the garden is doing. Your points can then be spent in the Swap Shop for some amazing natural items.

Learn more about the Naturally Wild Swap Shop!

Plants, Pollinators, and Pansies

Springtime is finally here, which means that vibrant and colorful plants and flowers that we love are finally in bloom! During this time, several species of plants are starting to blossom throughout the zoo, including those in the butterfly garden, the carnivorous plants, Chinese Fringe trees, and Ground Orchids just to name a few – it’s no wonder that the horticulture team at the Houston Zoo spends almost 600 hours a week keeping all of the plants healthy and lively across our 55-acres.

Azalea-0024.tiff[1]
Azaleas can be seen all around the zoo!
“During the spring season we get a lot of people asking about the Texas Mountain Laurel because it smells like grape bubblegum,” horticulture supervisor Anna Land said. “Also, people always love taking pictures in front of the azaleas when they are in bloom.

Azaleas can be easily spotted throughout the zoo – over by Cypress Circle and next the Reflection Pool. Land said that among other guests’ favorites include milkweed during the monarch season and many guests ask about the Jacaranda tree when it blooms, which is the next “big” plant that guests can look forward to. It commonly blooms in May (while some bloom as early as April) with trumpet-shaped deep blue or lavender clusters of flowers.

Monarch Butterflies

In addition to tending to the general landscape, the horticulture team also pays close attention the needs of the animals that call the zoo home.

“We do try to match up animals and native plants that are from that area of the world. For example, we predominantly use African plants in the African Forest,” Land said. “We aren’t always able to stick strictly to that because growing conditions are not always the same, so we’ll choose something that grows well here, but looks similar to a plant native to the animals’ home range to give the overall look we want.”

Asian-Elephant-Tucker-0017-8473[1]

By the John P. McGovern Children’s Zoo, near the Bug House, guests are met with a small colony of blooming carnivorous plants such as the Venus fly trap and the Pitcher plant. Named the “Children’s Zoo Carnivorous Plant Project,” this project was initiated by horticulture team lead Ariel Sklar last year to engage young bug enthusiasts about the relationships between bugs and plants.

With more than 740 known species of carnivorous plants, it’s no wonder that this species developed in many different ways to fill the different needs within the ecosystem. For example, some carnivorous plants have developed symbiotic relationships with other insects and reptiles that benefit both species to benefit the overall health of their habitat.

Carnivorous_Plant_Garden-0004-2071[1]
Pictured above: Pitcher plant
“It ties in nicely with the Bug House and the butterfly garden,” Land said. “We chose a location where we could do talks about pollinators and the diverse interactions that insects have with plants and the importance of those interactions.  Now that we have plants in an area that use insects in two very different ways is really interesting for kids and makes it easier to get them interested in bugs.”

Important to note about pollinators is that they account for up to 30 percent of what we eat – maple syrup, chocolate, and ice cream just to name a few foods that we all know and love! So how can you help? It’s as easy as buying organic products or creating a wildlife-friendly backyard. To learn more about pollinators, visit https://www.houstonzoo.org/saving-wildlife/texas-conservation/pollinators/.

The Importance of Pollinators

Pollinating insects are a crucial part of the health and well-being of our planet. They enable plants to set seed and reproduce,

Pollinators - source USDA Forest Service
Pollinators – source USDA Forest Service

driving the Earth’s terrestrial ecosystems and providing us with fresh fruits, vegetables, greens, spices, coffee and fiber for clothing (to name a few items we can’t live without).   But did you know that pollinator insect populations are steadily declining year after year due to habitat loss, crop monoculture and pesticide use? Even if you are a hardcore carnivore, the animals you eat depend on a variety of insect pollinated plants for food, so their plight affects you, too. In short, if insect populations suffer, the human population will quickly follow suit. The relationships between organisms on our planet is beautifully complex. To illustrate how intertwined these relationships can be, I’d like to tell you the story of a sweet smelling orchid, a love-struck metallic green bee and the Brazil nut tree.

As most people are aware, the deforestation of our planet is rampant, especially in tropical areas. In the Amazon rainforest, areas are sometimes selectively logged and the understory plants are bulldozed or burned, leaving only certain trees standing that might continue to provide income. Since Brazilian nuts are of economical importance, Brazil nut trees are often left alone. Unfortunately, the trees stop producing nuts after the surrounding forest is cleared… but why?

To solve the mystery, we must turn to a very cool group of insects – the orchid bees. Orchid bees (also known as Euglossine

Orchid Bee  - source www.whatsthatbug.com
Orchid Bee – source www.whatsthatbug.com

bees) are the main pollinators of orchids that are familiar to orchid enthusiasts: Gongora, Stanhopea, and their relatives. The orchids in this group have perfumed flowers that smell strongly of vanilla, clove, wintergreen and even root beer! The flowers offer no nectar, so female bees collecting food for their young have no interest in them. It turns out that these flowers are pollinated only by male bees, and each species of bee prefers a single species of orchid. So what are the male bees getting out of this? In order to attract a female bee, the male has to smell nice… so he collects perfumed wax from his preferred orchid flower and transfers it to specialized “pockets” on his hind legs. He then flies to a spot attractive to females (such as a big Brazil nut tree with lots of nectar-bearing flowers) and performs a scented mating display with his orchid perfume. This sparks the female bee’s interest and mating occurs, ensuring future generations of orchid bees. And while they’re around, the female bees pollinate the Brazil nut tree so that it may produce seeds (this is the part we eat).

So why doesn’t pollination occur when we leave a Brazil nut tree standing in an otherwise cleared forest? The orchid perfume that the male orchid bees need to successfully mate is nowhere to be found – the orchid plants only live in the shaded understory. No orchid, no bees, no pollination, no Brazilian nuts. This is but one example of countless stories in nature; most of

Brazil Nut Tree - source www.stdf-safenutproject.com
Brazil nut tree – source www.stdf-safenutproject.com

these intricate relationships are not fully understood and many more have not even been documented.

The same types of relationships occur here in the U.S., and the less plant variety we have, the more our beneficial insect numbers decline. This affects the entire ecosystem (think of how many other animals depend on insects for food; not to mention the plants they pollinate). But never fear – you can do your part to help save this fascinating group of animals! Plant a pollinator friendly garden at home, at school, at the office… no plot of land is too small and every little bit helps. If we spread the word, we can create diverse urban and suburban habitats for all kinds of wildlife. We can reverse the damage we have done and bring the pollinators back! Learn more at: http://www.xerces.org/pollinator-conservation/gardens/.

Pollinators and The Naturally Wild Swap Shop

Pollinators – what are they and why are they important?

A pollinator is an animal that helps a flowering plant complete its life-cycle by picking up pollen from one flower and moving

A gecko about to pollinate a tropical flower
A gecko about to pollinate a tropical flower

it to another of the same type.  This fertilizes the plant, allowing it to form seeds for the next generation.

Why does that matter to us?

Without plants being pollinated, we would loose at least 30% of ALL the food we eat.  Items such as fruit, veggies, nuts, spices, coffee, tequila and chocolate.  Beef and dairy products would be affected too because bees pollinate the alfalfa the cattle eat.  Even our clothes would suffer – cotton plants rely on pollinators too!

Mexican Long-tongued bat pollinating an agave blossom
Mexican Long-tongued bat pollinating an agave blossom

Pollinators include bees, bats, birds, small mammals, lizards and even a lemur.

Now, the question is: How can you help our pollinators and how does the Swap Shop tie in?

First….You can plant a pollinator garden of your own!  It can be anything from potted plants on a patio or balcony to a full size flower bed.

Next….Bring pictures, drawings, or reports about your pollinator garden to the Swap Shop for points!  Eligible traders will get points for both items showing the initial garden set up, as well as on going reports on wildlife seen in the garden.  And the trader will be recorded in the Swap Shop as a Pollinator Pal.

Some of the host plants that do well in our area include Milkweed, Bee Balm, Dutchman’s Pipe Vine, Mexican Bauhinia and Porter Weed.

The Red-bellied lemur pollinates the flowers of the traveler's palm
The Red-bellied lemur pollinates the flowers of the traveler’s palm

Need information about how to build a pollinator garden?  Many sites on line have great information.  Those include, but are not limited to, US Forest Service, US Fish & Wildlife, Texas Parks and Wildlife, Native Plant Society of Houston or The Xerces Society.

Join us at the Houston Zoo on June 20-21 as we celebrate Pollinator Day and learn more.

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

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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/
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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.

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.

Is this the one that had the limp?

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: RainbowBridge Author Unknown 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....

Jaguar habitat is in the Zoo or Jungle's? ??or is only entertainments for person's? ??$$$$$$$!.Sorry animals the person's don't love you ..

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.

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?

Aww I’m so sorry for the loss, I’ve seen him many times, he was absolutely gorgeous! I’m glad that you guys were able to make him comfortable, sometimes the best thing we can do is let them be at peace. Will miss this handsome guy; play hard at the Rainbow Bridge friend, day hi to my cat, Junior for me!! Much love to the HZI staff!!

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❤️

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. ❤️

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

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

Sending love to the keepers that are broken hearted right now. And thank you for all the care you’ve given.

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.

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.

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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.
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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

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