Campers Give Elephants the Gift of Grub Through Beautiful Browse Bouquets

The following post was written by Jesus Campos, a Horticulture Team Lead at the Houston Zoo. 

The horticulture department is constantly trying to find new and interactive ways to educate the public about nature and the important role plants play. Our department is quiet and not the first thing most people think of when they think of a zoo job. Most days we work early hours and behind the scenes to keep the zoo beautiful. Many people don’t realize how many different skill sets are part of the field of zoo horticulture. On staff, we have an arborist, tree climbers, a green house manager, color beds creatives, heavy machinery operators, a plant registrar, irrigation specialists, and browse specialists.

Browse is a form of enrichment that most of our animals receive several days a week. Browse includes edible nontoxic plants and flowers that are grown on zoo grounds and provide additional nutrition and enrichment for the animals. The idea for a browse bouquet class came to us after our browse specialist Maria showed off her flower arrangement skills for a special event. We realized people would love to see bouquets the animals can eat and play with. We presented the idea to Nicholas in the Conservation Education Department and he was extremely receptive.

Recently we had the opportunity to hold a couple of Browse Bouquet classes for zoo camp kids as part of our partnership with the education department. In these classes, we had groups of kids and counselors make flower arrangements using hibiscus flowers, banana leaves, orange kumquats, and many other approved browse plants, all cut from plants we grow here at the zoo. This was a fun and interactive way to teach campers the importance of plants and how they directly affect the animals we take care of here at the zoo. After completing their bouquets, we visited the Asian elephant family where the keepers held a short presentation for us.  The keepers called over the elephant family group to get a snack and the elephants greatly enjoyed it. The children stood there in awe watching as these beautiful giants ate something they had helped create!

The bouquets were a success. The kids were able to pick the flowers they wanted to use and help gather other leaves for the bouquet.  The memorable moment was of course getting to interact with the elephants. We plan to continue these classes and expand upon them with other interactive activities. Hopefully this will translate well with older teens and even adults. The Houston Zoo Camp and Zoo Crew programs help lots of young people learn about the different careers paths that exist in a zoo.


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Sets up a surprise sloth encounter as a birthday present for Simone Biles. You might think his shirt is made out of cotton. Turns out, it's boyfriend material. ... See MoreSee Less


Sets up a surprise sloth encounter as a birthday present for Simone Biles. You might think his shirt is made out of cotton. Turns out, its boyfriend material.


Comment on Facebook

Can anyone do this?


Where is the sloth's exhibit located within the zoo?

I'm not sure who is the cutest- the sloth, Simone, her boyfriend or SMG!!!

Christopher Vavrecka 😍 this is what I want for my birthday

And that is Curly- the best sloth in the world!

Erica Gunter when we going to see the giraffes?? 😍

JasonSara Pipkin, I do have a membership next time you want to go to Houston. 😉

Chris Roach, since Chelsea loves sloths.

Jason! I want an encounter with Succotash for my upcoming bday!!

I signed my wife up back in December. She gets her sloth encounter in May and is very excited!!

Julia Tompkins you and Simone have met the same sloth

I like the way the sloth looks right at the camera and poses for the picture.

what a cute picture... that sloth sure did pose for it too 😂😂

Glynis Henry we could have seen her there if we went today. i'm sad now, i love her!

Maria Diaz you could do this for Jenn!

Why is the red panda sold out forever in advance 😩 or is it just not really an encounter

Coming to the zoo this Saturday. Can not wait!

Cameron Caylor Robyn Davis Deddens apparently we can pay to meet a sloth. If you two care about my happiness WHAT SO EVER, you’ll make this happen.

Melissa Nitsche - we held a sloth & baby in Cartegena while on vacation when we lived in Panama City, Panana

Ashley Janitz Montalvo I knew there was a sloth at the Houston zoo!

We met Curly shortly after he came to Houston Zoo! So glad he's still alive and well!

Amanda Leigh Ramirez Even better! Let's chat when you get back from all your time out of the office.

Janet Roper Gratkowski, Laci is in good company with her sloth-love! 😂😂

Sloth says, “Wow, I’m usually too slow to photo bomb. Cool!”

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Spring break is over and it's back to the grind, so here's something relaxing. Enjoy watching our giraffes eat lettuce during our 11 a.m. giraffe feeding! ... See MoreSee Less



Comment on Facebook

Adam Thornton we should go do this!!

What a way to relax during lunch! The giraffes are so graceful!!

Just went two months ago planing to go again !

One of my favorite things to do when we go to the zoo!

Please tell me it won't be as crowded as Sunday if we come during the week

One of my favorite parts of the zoo.

How fun ... I love going to the zoo

My favorite....Giraffes!!😁😁



They so beautiful


Aww ❤️ ❤️

Dustin Badgerow

Karina Rocha


😍 excelente experiencia !! 😍💜

Dustin Badgerow

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