Attwater's prairie chickens released into the wild!

The Houston Zoo has been raising chicks this year to pump up the wild population with some hearty and happy Attwater’s prairie chickens (APCs), and yesterday we were able to reap the reward for all the efforts!

Yesterday, Houston Zoo Staff and US Fish and Wildlife headed out to the APC National Wildlife refuge to release some APCs that were raised at the Zoo. They will begin their life in the wild and hopefully strengthen the population by having chicks of their own!

All of the birds are radio-collared and tagged so that USFWS can monitor the populations and keep track of the general health of the birds.

The birds were initially released into these ‘soft pens’ to get them comfortable with the prairie land, and then after a few weeks were fully released into the wild. Good luck to them!

APC Release soft pens
A few APCs leaving the soft pen for the first time! The soon flew off and started their adventure in the open prairie!
APC release prairie chickens
A group of APCs that just walked out of the pens, checking out their new surroundings.

APC release prairie chickens in field

 

 

We're releasing Attwater's prairie chickens into the wild!

 

We’ve been raising these adorable chicks for the past few months, and for some of them, they’ve already gotten big enough to be ready to start their life in the wild.

In the picture below, you can see the same bird on 4/22 and on 7/16. This juvenile looks a lot like a fully grown Attwater’s prairie chicken (APC), but is about 2/3 the size of an adult.

 

 

We have released 37 chicks so far in three release events since June and are looking forward to another release coming up next week, followed by at least two more releases in August!

We’ll keep an eye on these guys individually as they grow in the wild by recording their actions through radio collars and fancy foot jewelry (identification tags).

 

We wish them a great life in their natural habitat in the wild, and hope they feel comfortable enough to have some chicks of their own!

 

 

Houston Zoo staff assist in another exciting sea turtle release!

 

 

Houston Zoo staff assisted with another amazing sea turtle release this week in Galveston.  A more than 250 LBS loggerhead was found stranded on the Texas coast July 15, 2013.  She was found by a member of the public who called the injured or stranded sea turtle hot line (1-866-TURTLE-5) to report her.  The turtle was retrieved and given a health check by NOAA and Houston Zoo staff. 

She was in great health and an ultrasound treatment revealed that she was full of eggs.  She was released off a beach in Galveston July 16th  in the hopes that she would lay her eggs soon.  Her identifying tag revealed that she was approximately 20 years old and tagged in 1998 off the coast of N. Carolina. 

How are we helping?  The Houston Zoo houses injured or stranded sea turtles in our Kipp Aquarium until they are fit to be released.  

How are you helping?  A portion of the Houston Zoo’s admission cost goes to our wildlife conservation programs.   Every time you visit the zoo you are helping animals in the wild! 

For more about helping us to save sea turtles in the wild click here .

 

 

 

The Houston Zoo is saving (more) sea turtles!

Zoo vet staff has rescued another sea turtle today and already removed two fishing hooks from inside his throat! You can see the two hooks in the x-ray photo, and the photo that follows is of Dr. Joe getting ready to remove those hooks.

Kemp’s Ridley X-Ray with two hooks.

How did this guy get two hooks in him? Well, he’s actually had more than that. This guy came to us with tags that you can see in the final photo below. The tags mean that we’ve come across this guy before, and though hooks are not the only reason for an emergency visit, his specific numbers showed that he was with us in 2011 for the same issue.

It is likely that this instance of double hooks came about after he grabbed one meal from a fishing line, was cut free, and then tried to grab another snack later on and was thankfully alerted to NOAA Galveston. Often, sea turtles are released back into the ocean after the fishing line has been cut. Though this releases turtles back seemingly unharmed, these hooks do not pass through the body or deteriorate, which more often than not causes fatalities in these amazing creatures.

Dr. Joe beginning the hook removal.

So, if you see a sea turtle accidentally caught on the beach, just call 1-866-TURTLE-5 and NOAA will come out to grab that turtle and bring it to us. Though there are no repercussions for accidentally catching a sea turtle, there is enforcement if fisherman purposely keep sea turtles. Be aware, and be a Conservation Hero!

Kemp’s Ridley identification tags. You can even get a reward if you call…and can read very dirty things!

Houston Zoo staff is saving sea turtles!

Two sea turtles were brought to the Houston Zoo for medical treatment this morning. Zoo staff removed a hook from a Kemp’s Ridley and a loggerhead received an exam!

Kemp’s Ridley preparing for X-Ray.
Kemp’s Ridley on the X-Ray table.
Dr. Joe preparing to take the hook out of the Kemp’s Ridley.
Hook removed from Kemp’s Ridley.

13 Sea Turtles Go Back to the Wild!

On Friday, May 31st several Houston Zoo staff, board and committee members assisted NOAA employees with the release of 13 turtles who have been rehabilitated and were ready to continue their lives in the great open ocean!  2 different species of turtles were released on Friday. Several green sea turtles were released into the bay area and the remaining Kemp’s ridley turtles were released across the street onto the beach. The release sites of these animals are determined by NOAA staff depending on the age, size, range and diet of the sea turtle species.

The day was not only special because 13 sea turtles returned to the wild, but also because 1 of the 13 turtles was our Kipp Aquarium resident who was healthy enough to go back to the Gulf of Mexico! Although this green sea turtle will be missed, we are sure to have another sea turtle resident for our guests to see at the Zoo soon! We will keep you updated.

The Zoo’s green sea turtle gets a flipper tag before being released so it can be identified if it ever comes onto the shore again. Photo by Stephanie Adams.

Finally, the day was capped off with one more success story. The green sea turtle who was rescued from a freshwater pond outside of Houston this past fall was successfully rehabilitated at the NOAA Galveston facility through the medical assistance of the Zoo’s Vet Clinic. Many of the Vet Clinic staff were on hand at the release to let this very special green sea turtle go. It is very uncommon for a sea turtle to survive extended time in freshwater, so the fact that this green sea turtle survived and was able to be released back into salt water was wonderful!

The green sea turtle rescued from freshwater in the greater Houston area with the Zoo’s Vet Clinic team who helped to bring this turtle back to a healthy state.
Dr. Joe Flanagan releasing the large green sea turtle into the bay!
This green sea turtle swims off with ease!

Unfortunately, not all sea turtles have wonderful success stories like the ones described here. You can help create positive outcomes for our sea turtles by reporting any sightings on the beach and calling 1-866-TURTLE-5. NOAA depends heavily on the help of the public to report sightings of sea turtles, and we truly appreciate everyone who is willing to help!

This Kemp’s ridley was released with a satellite tag to track its movements in order to determine better conservation plans for the species.

With your assistance, we can have a lot more turtles returning to the wild! For more information on the Houston Zoo and our effort to conserve sea turtles, please visit our website.

The Houston Zoo's Attwater's Prairie Chickens are getting ready to go back to the wild!

We still have Attwater’s prairie chicken eggs in incubators here at the Zoo, but the oldest chicks are now 45 days old.   Because these birds are being reintroduced into the wild our staff is focused on encouraging as much natural behavior as possible to prepare them for prairie life.

  

The oldest chicks are now getting more vegetation in their diet, so that they recognize their wild diet.    And, their outdoor enclosures are filled with branches and bushes to encourage their instinct to hide and protect themselves from predators that threaten their survival in the wild.    

We will start reintroducing Attwater’s prairie chickens in June and July.  In the meantime, we will keep everyone posted on their development here at the Zoo, so stay tuned!

If you are interested in helping us save this species from extinction click here.

6 sea turtles in the Houston Zoo vet clinic on Memorial Day

Kemps Ridley with hook in its mouth

Six sea turtles were brought in to the Houston Zoo vet clinic this afternoon for examinations.   There were 4 Kemp’s ridleys, 1 green and 1 loggerhead sea turtle.  All of them had been injured or stranded on the Texas coast, and were in need of veterinary treatment.

Hook removed from the throat of this sea turtle

Two of the Kemp’s ridleys had swallowed hooks, and the vet staff was able to retrieve and extract the fishing hooks from inside the throat and mouth of the turtles.

 

Sea turtle with fishing hook in its throat.

 

After treatment all of the sea turtles were taken to the NOAA Sea Turtle Barn in Galveston to recover.

Same turtle as above with hook removed!

If you want to learn more about how the Houston Zoo is protecting sea turtles in the wild and how you can help, click here.  Stay tuned for more sea turtle rescues at the Houston Zoo!

Houston Toad Release Success!

Houston toad egg strands

Last week, we transferred 6 total egg strands (~20,000 eggs) to our collaborators at Texas State. We had the opportunity to assist a TSU graduate student in placing the eggs inside protective wire cages in an area outside Bastrop State Park. We were able to check on the eggs transferred the previous week and found very large Houston toad tadpoles, indicating that our first round of released eggs had survived. 

There were also three toadlets that would be the appropriate age to be the offspring of the first set of adult toads that were released from our facility (and subsequently laid eggs) at the same pond back in March.  

In summary this spring we have released:

139 adult Bastrop county toads

631 adult Leon county toads

~36,000 Bastrop county toad eggs

For more on this fabulous program and how you can help the Houston toad click here .

 Check back for more about how the Houston Zoo is helping to save animals in the wild!

Attwater's prairie chicks getting upgrades!

Today some of our Attwater’s chicks had their first vet exam! Afterwards, they received upgraded bands because they are growing so fast. When born, the chicks only weigh about 17 grams (on average). Once they graduate to 50 grams, they receive their veterinarian exam in preparation for release to a larger outdoor area. Below, you can see one of our chicks showing off his new jewelry in his new home!

Attwater’s prairie chick with his new bling!

Check out the Houston Zoo Texas Conservation page to learn more about the Attwater’s prairie chicken or to make a contribution.

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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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