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Conservation Impact

Asian Wildlife

The Zoo is ensuring the wild counterparts of the Asian animals we have at the Zoo are protected by supporting wildlife programs that are led by local leaders with strong connections to local governments and communities. Since 2004, our conservation leaders help local community members see the value in and protect animals like the wild snakes and elephants they live alongside. Local community members in Borneo are replanting forests for animals like Asian elephants, Bornean orangutans and clouded leopards. Indonesian partners in Sumatra are protecting the nests of a critically endangered turtle, the painted terrapin. Villagers in India are rescuing and relocating king cobras to protect not only the snakes but the people who live alongside them.

Meet Our Partners

The Zoo is committed to the best care for our King cobra in the Reptile House and is also protecting its wild counterparts in India. Zoo staff have provided mentorship, training, and support for King cobra researcher and Eastern Ghats Wildlife Society (EGWS) founder, Murthy Kantimahanti to help him and his team protect wild King cobras for over five years. EGWS successfully initiated the first ever community-based snake conservation program in the region. Their goal is to foster harmonious relationships between humans and snakes.

To achieve this, they educate and equip local communities with tools and practices to reduce snake interactions in villages and manage snake encounters safely. The EGWS’s Snake Savior program educates people in the communities to be snake specialists. They train individuals in the local communities to be “first responders” to snake encounters. The program has led to a decrease in encounters that result in injuries to humans and snakes. Murthy and his team have successfully eliminated snake bite incidents and retaliatory killing of snakes in 36 local villages in the Eastern Ghats, India. They have dispelled the fear around snakes—sharing guidelines on how to live safely along-side them and educating local communities on how snakes assist with rodent and disease control. EGWS works closely with the Indian government and provides snake awareness and handling programs for local Forest Department staff.

Murthy has visited the Zoo several times to assist with and receive training. In 2019, he came to Houston to assist the Zoo with the Houston Venom Conference, held at Baylor College of Medicine. Created in 2013, the conference serves to educate physicians, nurses, EMS professionals, and nature enthusiasts about the management of snakebites. The Zoo brought Murthy in to share his experience on how to reduce snake bite incidents. In 2020, Murthy agreed to work virtually with the conservation department to offer guidance for the Zoo Crew Texas Snake Awareness Campaign. We set up virtual sessions for Murthy to share effective snake conservation campaign principles and goals with the teens, and allowed the teens to ask questions and share their progress on their project.


The Zoo is committed to protecting wild orangutans in Borneo by providing mentorship, training and support for our conservation partners at Hutan Kinabatangan Orangutan Conservation Project (KOCP). Since 2006, KOCP’s primary focus is to study orangutans in Borneo, which is home to some of the last remaining native habitats for wild orangutans. With over 50 highly trained local staff, their work includes:

  • Assessing and monitoring orangutan population health;
  • Studying how orangutans adapt to living within degraded or fragmented forest patches;
  • Developing policies for population management within and outside of protected areas;
  • Promoting community engagement;
  • Education in the conservation of orangutans and habitat, including environmental education programs for Malaysian school children and restoring habitat by replanting thousands of trees.


The Zoo is committed to protecting wild turtles in Sumatra by providing mentorship, training and support for our conservation partners at the Satucita Foundation. The Satucita Foundation was founded in Sumatra in 2009 to promote the conservation of freshwater turtles, like the painted terrapin. The Sumatran team observes, monitors, and protects critically endangered painted terrapins. They patrol to protect nests from poaching and give the eggs a “headstart” by protecting them until they hatch from the egg. Additionally, the team works to protect the habitat for these turtles and educates the local community on how to live alongside the Painted Terrapin. Thanks to these efforts, thousands of painted terrapin hatchlings and juveniles have been released safely into rivers and estuaries in Indonesia.

The Zoo is committed to protecting wild elephants in Borneo by providing mentorship, training, and support for our conservation partners at Seratu Aatai. Seratu Aatai is focused on ensuring the survival of the Bornean elephant populations inside and outside the protected areas, in particular by reducing human and elephant conflicts to a level accepted by people and compatible with elephant survival. Seratu Aatai’s current work is focusing on increasing the local community and private sector capacity to accept a peaceful cohabitation with the elephants. Their community-based “Elephant Conservation Unit” is collecting crucial information about elephant behavior to inform future protection plans for elephants. The elephant population has increased thanks to this valuable work. Seratu Aatai also works closely with the Zoo’s orangutan conservation project partners, Hutan Kinabatangan Orangutan Conservation Project, to replant forests and restore habitat for wildlife in Borneo.


The Zoo is supporting Ph.D. candidate Elisa in her efforts to protect pangolins in the wild through a partnership with Cardiff University and Danau Girang Field Centre on the island of Borneo. Elisa has been involved in Sunda pangolin research, education, and conservation for ten years and is providing important scientific information to strengthen the protection of and management planning for pangolin species.

In addition, Elisa has been trained as a Wildlife Warden to support the enforcement unit of the Sabah Wildlife Department. She participates in forest patrolling, anti-snare campaigns, wildlife crime online monitoring as well as awareness and education programs to protect many local species. Elisa, with the help of her team, leads local pangolin awareness and education programs. The programs have benefited hundreds of people, especially the younger generation.  

Take Action

Replanting Wildlife Habitat

The Houston Zoo is replanting 150,000 trees to create forested corridors in Malaysia to directly protect wildlife including elephants, orangutans, and clouded leopards.


Visit the Zoo

Guests can visit the orangutan and painted terrapin exhibit at the Zoo to see these amazing animals and be a part of the Zoo’s wildlife-saving work. Every admission ticket and membership sold is helping the Zoo plant trees to reforest habitat and help to protect wildlife. 


Inside Videos

KPRC Special: Saving Wildlife from Houston to Borneo

Meet Dr. Farina Othman

More Conservation Impact