Our Sea Lion Team is Saving Marine Wildlife & You Can Too!

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Next time you visit the Zoo make sure you catch our sea lion presentations to hear how the sea lion team is organizing efforts to save marine animals in the wild! All of our animal care specialists love the animals they provide care for and feel a devotion to protecting their wild counterparts.

 

In the past year, the sea lion team has organized 11 trips with Zoo staff to Galveston and collected:

  • 140 lbs of fishing line from specially-designed bins placed along the jetties. These bins were built by the Zoo!
  • 140 lbs of recycling from the beach
  • 250 lbs of trash from the beach

 

sohie and bins
On the left is a monofilament bin and the right is a member of the sea lion team digging fishing line out of the rocks!

During these animal saving expeditions, they have talked to beach goers and fisherman about the importance of properly discarding fishing line in the designated containers along Galveston jetties so that the line does not blow into the ocean or onto the beaches. The Houston Zoo assists with the rehabilitation of approximately 85 stranded or injured wild sea turtles a year, with some of them showing injuries resulting from becoming entangled in the fishing line and other garbage.

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Please help us save wildlife by spreading the word. 

If you like to fish, know local fishermen, or like to spend time at the beach, make sure you tell everyone you can about how to save wildlife by:

  • Properly disposing of all fishing line in the designated bins
  • Properly sorting the recycling and garbage you find or bring to the beach
  • Calling 1-866-Turtle-5 (1-866-887-8535) if you happen to catch a sea turtle while fishing, or see an injured or stranded turtle.

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Thank you for protecting wildlife with us!

Saving Sea Turtles in the Gulf – Part 2

Lauren 2We’re back with more sea turtle-saving stories from Panama City! The Houston Zoo recently visited Florida with our partners at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to test turtle excluder devices (TEDs) for fisheries across the globe to incorporate into their shrimp nets. These TEDs are critical – and required by federal law – to ensure the safety of sea turtles while fishermen work to provide some of our favorite seafood, like shrimp!

Each year, about 200 sea turtles are driven to Florida from Galveston to test each TED, and about 25 turtles will attempt to swim through each TED. That’s a lot of turtles and swim time! Our partners at NOAA Galveston spend all year getting the sea turtles in their care ready for this critical work! This year, they allowed Houston Zoo staff to come along and observe the process of ensuring shrimp nets around the world are safe for sea turtles.

From Wednesday through Friday, Houston Zoo staff got aboard NOAA’s boat, the Caretta, and what a beautiful three days it was!  We arrived at NOAA’s Panama City, Florida site each day at 6 a.m. and immediately began preparing the turtles and the boats for the days’ adventures. This work included feeding those turtles that had already swum through the TED a delicious breakfast of squid and crating other turtles that would swim through an excluder device that day. Once everyone arrived to the site, we boarded the boat and headed out for a short 12-hour day on the water.

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So, how does it work? TED testing requires three different boats: the main boat where the sea turtles are released into the ocean, the dive boat where the three divers launch, and the catch boat where staff retrieve the sea turtles from the water after they’ve journeyed through the TED. We were able to experience each boat throughout the day, all the while hearing stories from all of the NOAA staff and learning why TEDs are so important to protect these threatened and endangered sea turtles.

In order for a TED to be approved and certified, a sea turtle must be able to make its way safely through the net in five minutes or less. Three divers are underwater with the shrimp net to document the turtle’s journey through the water and to ensure the turtle gets back on the boat. They take very detailed notes and video so the team can evaluate the turtles’ performances that day and whether or not they need to adjust the TED design.

After all of the turtle excluder devices have been tested, the Caretta returns back to its home in Pascagoula, Mississippi, and the loggerhead sea turtles are released back into the ocean.

Be sure to check back soon for more information on TED-testing and how YOU can help save sea turtles in the wild!

Saving Sea Turtles in the Gulf – Part 1

Greetings from Panama City! The Houston Zoo recently visited Florida with our partners at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to test turtle excluder devices (TEDs) for fisheries across the globe to incorporate into their shrimp nets. These TEDs are critical – and required by federal law – to ensure the safety of sea turtles while fishermen work to provide some of our favorite seafood, like shrimp!

Turtle excluder devices help protect sea turtles, like this guy, from shrimp nets!
Turtle excluder devices help protect sea turtles, like this guy, from shrimp nets!

Every summer NOAA staff spends three weeks in Panama City testing newly-constructed or tweaked TED designs that will, if approved, later be used by fishermen. Turtle excluder devices are used to allow fishermen to catch animals like shrimp, while excluding animals like sea turtles that may accidentally be caught in their nets.

Each year, about 200 sea turtles are driven to Florida from Galveston to test each TED, and about 25 turtles will attempt to swim through each TED. That’s a lot of turtles and swim time! The sea turtles are then released back into the wild after the weeks of TED testing.

Our partners at NOAA Galveston spend all year getting the sea turtles in their care ready for this critical work! This year, they allowed Houston Zoo staff to come along and observe the process of ensuring shrimp nets around the world are safe for sea turtles.

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The Zoo’s vet team provides veterinary care to sea turtles brought in from Galveston.

In addition to field work assistance in Panama City this summer, the Houston Zoo helps save sea turtles in a number of ways. One way the Zoo helps is by providing veterinary care to sea turtles brought in from Galveston, sometimes also housing rehabilitating sea turtles at the Zoo in the Kipp Aquarium. The Zoo also hosts sea turtle events at the Zoo to increase awareness, participates in weekly beach surveys to look for stranded or nesting sea turtles, and serves only ocean-friendly seafood to Zoo animals and guests!

Be sure to check back soon for more information on TED testing in Panama City!

Saving Sea Turtles on our Local Piers

An exciting program called the Responsible Pier Initiative has come to Galveston! This program is managed by the Loggerhead Marinelife Center in Florida. Our friends at Turtle Island Restoration Network, NOAA, the Galveston Parks Board, Texas Parks and Wildlife, US Fish and Wildlife and Texas A & M Galveston all played a role in the installation of the signs yesterday and making this program happen.

The program aims to protect sea turtles by increasing awareness of those people fishing on piers of what to do in the event they accidentally catch a turtle. This is done through training programs with pier managers and sea turtle biologists as well as installing informational signage on participating piers.

Pier Signs in Galveston detailing how to help sea turtles
Pier Signs in Galveston detailing how to help sea turtles

Yesterday, 3 piers in Galveston joined the effort and new signage was installed to alert people fishing what to do if they catch a turtle. The piers include Seawolf Park, 61st Street Pier and Galveston Island Fishing Pier.

More signage detailing how to help sea turtles if they are accidentally caught on your fishing line
More signage detailing how to help sea turtles if they are accidentally caught on your fishing line

The signs were printed in English and Spanish and can now be seen the next time you visit one of these piers!

A hoop net is included for piers participating in this effort so sea turtles can safely be brought onto the shore if accidentally caught
A hoop net is included for piers participating in this effort so sea turtles can safely be brought onto the shore if accidentally caught
Partners from various local organizations who helped make this signage possible posed for a picture at Seawolf Park!
Partners from various local organizations who helped make this signage possible posed for a picture at Seawolf Park!

More than 50 Endangered Sea Turtles Set for Release

On Wednesday May 27, NOAA Fisheries, the Houston Zoo and Moody Gardens will release 51 sea turtles at Stewart Beach in Galveston, Texas. Forty-nine of the turtles are Kemp’s ridleys and were part of a group brought in last December after suffering from the cold in Cape Cod, New England. The Boston Aquarium sent the sick turtles to NOAA’s Galveston Sea Turtle Facility as well as 17 other sea turtle rehabilitation centers, zoos, and aquariums throughout the country. The other two turtles, one Kemp’s ridley and one loggerhead were already at the NOAA facility for treatment and rehabilitation.

120519-Kemp's Ridley Sea Turtle Releases
© Houston Zoo/Stephanie Adams

The turtles were part of a record setting cold stunning event which included a total of 1,200 turtles. They were dehydrated and emaciated due to the cold. Symptoms of cold stunning include a decreased heart rate, decreased circulation, lethargy, followed by shock, pneumonia and eventually death if not rescued.

© Houston Zoo/Stephanie Adams
© Houston Zoo/Stephanie Adams

Now, after months of rehabilitation and warmer temperatures, the turtles are ready to be returned to the wild. The release will take place promptly at 8am, Stewart Beach Park, 201 Seawall Blvd. in Galveston. The public is invited to come out and witness this exciting release. The normal parking fee for Stewart Beach will be waived for those who arrive before 9 am to attend the release.

Ben Higgins, who runs the NOAA Galveston Laboratory’s sea turtle program and Dr. Joe Flanagan, head veterinarian at The Houston Zoo, will be on hand to answer questions after the release. Dr. Flanagan is the attending veterinarian for all sea turtles rescued and rehabilitated by the NOAA Galveston Laboratory. A special thanks also to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for their help in getting the turtles to Galveston from Boston.

The Kemp’s ridley is the smallest and most endangered sea turtle in the world. For more on the Kemp’s ridley, please visit NOAA Fisheries fact page about the species.

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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.

Sabinga's Updates: How Saving Elephants is Like Saving Sea Turtles

Sabinga-Profile-ResizeThe Houston Zoo is excited to welcome a new intern who comes to us all the way from Kenya, in East Africa. Sabinga is in the United States participating in the Community College Initiative Program (CCIP). The Community College Initiative Program is a program of the U.S. Department of State, administered by Northern Virginia Community College on behalf of the Community College Consortium (CCC) in partnership with Houston Community College. While participating in this program, he will join us at the zoo as an intern to learn all about what a modern-day zoo is like! Sabinga is already part of the conservation community as he has been working with Save the Elephants in Kenya for over 8 years. He will be documenting his experiences at the Zoo and we will share his thoughts with you here on our blog! Stay tuned for more!

It was Friday morning, I just reported back after Christmas and New Year break from my internship in the Houston Zoo, was the second day of January 2015. This day was planned last year for me to join Martha Parker (Conservation Education Coordinator) and Marketing team (Christine – Marketing Director, Shayla – Promotions Coordinator, Lauren – Marketing Coordinator, and Mary Kate– Marketing Coordinator) to travel to Galveston to visit NOAA’s sea turtle barn, the clock was ticking 11:01 am it’s time to go. We quickly get the big group ready to go. Christmas and New year stories occupied the air, each individual sharing their Christmas exciting memories, from beautiful Christmas trees full of sparkling, glittery ornament, sounds of giggling, toys blurring through the house and many more stunning detailed stories. Abruptly the stories were cut short because we had to go, six of us left “Oohing” and “Aaahing” Christmas season stories never stop, six of us continue chatting and laughing with joy! While Martha was driving and concentrating on the road, she kept contributing to the stories too, in about 30 minutes on the road, silence took control. I knew I didn’t contribute or tell my stories of my Christmas season, I knew it was my time! I didn’t know how to start my story of Christmas, so I asked Martha if I had told her about watching an NBA basketball game. Her exciting response it gave me energy to narrate was a nice story too, and I added more sweetness by showing pictures on my phone! By that time we were close to our destination.

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It was noon and one of us suggested if we can eat lunch before visiting the barn. It was the best suggestion and went unopposed, so we went to a restaurant, very nice and clean, looked like a museum with drawings and sculptures around the walls. We sat on one table, everyone served his or her favorite, and we enjoy our lunch like family in every aroma and every bite!  After lunch we headed to NOAA’s (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) sea turtle facility.

11NOAA is an agency that enriches life through science. Compound was not big, I might be wrong to estimate, but no matter the size it has much in it, it’s home for more than 400 turtles. It has big storage tanks you might think it’s for Oil storage and vessel but no-it’s just for circulation of water from the sea to more than 400 turtle pools so they feel they are in the sea!

22Question is why Houston zoo involved? Because the sad fact of the matter is that sea turtle populations around the world are plummeting. So they are getting to the heart of the matter to protect these vulnerable creatures. To involve protecting the adult and baby turtle is not just an important thing to do, it is also a step in the right direction to preserve this species for generations to come and protecting sea turtle is not only an act of compassion, it reinforces a necessary link in the fragile chain of our earth ecosystem. When humankind is in harmony with the wildlife on the land and in the sea the benefits are far reaching – we are all connected, that is why Houston zoo assists sea turtle efforts on the Texas Coast by partnering with organizations like NOAA, Moody Gardens, Sea Turtle Restoration Project, Texas A&M Galveston, among many others. The zoo provides staff expertise and resources to assist sea turtle efforts. These include staff to assist in weekly beach surveys, graphics assistance in designing sea turtle awareness signage for local beaches, and medical care and rehabilitation for injured sea turtles by our veterinary and aquarium staff. Experience the thrill of helping to save endangered sea turtles, when you go on a turtle tour, we saw four species of the sea turtles include Kemp’s Ridley, Hawksbill, Green and Loggerhead.  We learned a lot and I found many things related to work of Save the Elephants in Kenya.

33Turtle Excluder Devices (TEDs) is an amazing technology where it allows sea turtles to escape the back of the fishing trawl, while still capturing small animals like fish and shrimp. This is where zoo and government work with the community on saving sea creatures, where members of the community are part of conservation. The same idea where Save the Elephants works closely with the community by making them involved with conservation and be proud of their wildlife. An example is our beehive fence, where farmers use beehive fences around their farms, where bee sounds and stings scare elephants away before they can destroy crops. Also farmers harvest honey, thus reducing the conflicts between elephants and farmers.

Also Save the Elephants’ text message technique was best to bring community to conservation where farmers receive a text message from collared elephants telling them which way the elephants are coming including the time and date when elephants about 500 meters from the farm. This also makes the community to feel involved and part of conservation.

After the tour in turtle burn we head back, this time the stories in the car are different, all of us processing and remembering what we learned, some asking questions not because they failed to ask them at the barn but because it helped remind us what we learned. It reminded me of school where we always discuss what we learn, this is showing that everyone has the heart of conservation, besides their normal work.

What’s near and dear to our heart is cooperative conservation, and knowledge sharing can make the difference between survival and extinction, that’s why we inspire others to remain motivated and work together towards building and maintaining a winning team!

Let’s join hands to work together, so we can win this battle against extinction!

Sabinga's Updates: Wildlife Protection Efforts Near the Ocean

Sabinga-Profile-ResizeThe Houston Zoo is excited to welcome a new intern who comes to us all the way from Kenya, in East Africa. Sabinga is in the United States participating in the Community College Initiative Program (CCIP). The Community College Initiative Program is a program of the U.S. Department of State, administered by Northern Virginia Community College on behalf of the Community College Consortium (CCC) in partnership with Houston Community College. While participating in this program, he will join us at the zoo as an intern to learn all about what a modern-day zoo is like! Sabinga is already part of the conservation community as he has been working with Save the Elephants in Kenya for over 8 years. He will be documenting his experiences at the Zoo and we will share his thoughts with you here on our blog! Stay tuned for more!

Sabinga writes:
Do you know that Houston Zoo also doing their part to bolster dwindling populations of animals still living free in the wild? The sea turtle is an example. The green sea turtle gets its name not from the color of its shell but from the greenish shade of its fat. A saw-like beak helps these herbivores tear through vegetation. Their shells, which are lighter and more hydrodynamic than those of terrestrial turtles, allow them to glide easily through the water, while flippers enable them to swim long distances. Male sea turtles spend their entire lives at sea, but females return to the same beaches they were born on, once every two years or so, to lay eggs. It’s a unique creature!!

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Just a few days ago I was busy working on my computer when I heard a voice behind me asking me if I wanted to go into the field with Martha (Conservation Education Coordinator) and sea lion staff on the following Tuesday. I quickly realized the voice was Renee! (Conservation Programs Manager) But it took me lot of thinking to manage and organized my thoughts about word “field” in the zoo as I turn my chair to face her slowly buying time for my thoughts, the only thing running in my head is back in Kenya, in Save the Elephants where we go to the field on daily monitoring, community outreach and anti-poaching campaigns for wildlife. I turn to face her and still have no clue what she meant. My thoughts fail me. I repeated the same statement to her. “Field?” Maybe she though I repeated a word to her for confirmation, not knowing there was so much going in my head. And that was where my new lesson started about what field work with the Houston Zoo meant.

The 16th of December, 2014 Tuesday morning was our mission day of Surfside beach clean-up to protect animals like sea turtles, it took us approximately one hour, was a long drive but was a journey with lot of fun, lots of laugh and a great way to get a word out about the sea Turtles! Aiming to talk to beach residents in an effort to monitor, preserve and protect sea turtle and their vicinity as well as to educate the local residents on the plight of sea turtles and other marine animals, it is the same way Save the Elephants approaches the community on elephant poaching.

Martha had lot of responsibility; she was our team leader, driver and main spokesperson to the community although Sophie Darling and Heather Crane contributed too to the effort. I was keen to learn about how they approach the community! From my heroes (Martha, Sophie and Heather), my first impression was the sea turtle sign at the entry of the beach, this sign was made by the Houston Zoo graphics team in collaboration with  NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric administration) which is also the same way that Save the Elephants collaborates with the Kenyan Government -Kenya Wildlife Service.
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NOAA & Houston Zoo staff put fishing line recycling bins on a long jetty for fishermen to put their broken fishing line that is dangerous for the sea turtles and other marine animals.  We started cleaned the jetty from the far end coming where we began by collecting common marine debris items including things like cigarette butts, cans, plastic bags and bottles, styrofoam, balloons, lighters, discarded or lost fishing gear such as lines, nets and anything else dangerous to sea life. This is hard work but there is still a lot to be done.  We still need to do a lot of collecting and messaging to win this, we cannot give up!!!!

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Sophie and Heather’s comments on their experience, “It feels so good to be out and actively participating in such an important mission, I just wish that I could get every piece of monofilament out there! That was the hardest part, like you said, was having to come to terms with the fact that I couldn’t get everything.  I cannot wait to spread this to the community here at the Zoo and all over Houston! I feel extremely proud to be a part of all of this.”

The total amount or marine debris the sea lion team has collect this fall is:

  • 34.1 lbs of rope
  • 11 lbs of recycling
  • 26.4 lbs of trash
  • 2 lbs of monofilament (fishing line)

Why should we care about sea turtles? Just like other species, sea turtles are also important to the economy. Some fishermen depend on fishing for their jobs and if sea turtle go extinct, the underwater ecosystem would be unbalanced. Why? Sea turtles are one of the only animals that eat sea grass, and sea grasses need to be kept short. Why? So it can grow across the ocean floor. Why? Without the sea grass the species of fish that live there will be lost, the people that fish for them couldn’t anymore. What if that was YOU?  Some just think,  “oh well other people will care for them”; others may say, “I am busy with my business”  – yeah well many other people may be thinking other things – that is why we have this problem. So do your part. Please join us to save sea turtles by reducing the use of plastic bags so that they don’t end up in the ocean and cleaning the beach. It is of great value to our community and the world. We need to take action together, and spread the news! Your actions today affect tomorrow’s outcomes!

Keep an Eye Out For Cold Sea Turtles!

When the temperature changes quickly in our typically hot and humid environment, humans aren’t the only ones who get chilly. Sea turtles often times become “cold stunned” during extreme temperature changes. They are accustomed to warmer water temperatures, and if a cold front comes in quickly and unexpectedly, they don’t have the time to move to warmer waters and thus become “stunned” by the cold.

Green sea turtles often wash onto our shores when the temperature drops drastically. Call 1-866-TURTLE-5 to report a sea turtle that you suspect is cold-stunned or injured!
Green sea turtles often wash onto our shores when the temperature drops drastically. Call 1-866-TURTLE-5 to report a sea turtle that you suspect is cold-stunned or injured!

Since sea turtles are reptiles and cold blooded, they can’t regulate their body temperature like we can (that’s why we shiver-to warm ourselves up!) and become weak, typically washing up on our bay shores and beaches. Several green sea turtles have recently washed up on our shores as a result of the cold.

Green sea turtles who have been cold stunned this week by our cooler temperatures
Green sea turtles who have been cold stunned by our cooler temperatures

So, if you are  braving the cold weather this winter and spending time near Galveston Bay or our beaches, please make sure to keep a look out for cold stunned turtles. If you happen to see a sea turtle, please report it immediately by calling 1-866-TURTLE-5.

Call 1-866-TURTLE-5 if you see a cold stunned sea turtle
Call 1-866-TURTLE-5 if you see a cold stunned sea turtle

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.

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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: 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.

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....

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.

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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.
... See MoreSee Less

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

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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! 😂

“Baby it’s cold outside!”

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 !!!

I fell for the mouse thing too..

My gutters had glaciers in them!

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

Ashley Nguyen

Pauline Ervin

Denise Daigre

Vicente Gonzalez

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