Over the years, you’ve watched your Houston Zoo undergo enormous changes and growth. Now, as we march toward our 100th anniversary in 2022, the Houston Zoo will celebrate by completing the most dramatic transformation in our history.
We will redefine what a zoo can be with beautiful and immersive habitats, compelling guest experiences, and an unyielding commitment to saving wildlife.
To create these new spaces, we are undergoing a massive construction project which will temporarily shift pathways, close buildings and move some animals to new habitats. During this process, the Zoo is working diligently to minimize impacts, while continuing to maintain the best experience possible for both guests and our animals.
Read more below!
KIPP Aquarium Closing
The Zoo will begin construction on the Galapagos Islands habitat in early 2020. To make room for this exciting new habitat, Kipp Aquarium will close to the public in Spring of 2020. While our Houston Zoo will no longer have a stand-alone aquarium, we will still feature many aquatic animals and habitats throughout the Zoo.
Red Pandas Move
Recently, red pandas Také and Li Ming moved from their habitat at the front of the Zoo to a new home in the Children’s Zoo. Guests can now see the adorable pair climbing and snoozing in their new habitat adjacent to the Bug House.
Kathrine G. McGovern Texas WetlandsOpened May 2019
Cypress Circle CaféOpened November 2018
Hamill Foundation Bear ExhibitOpened September 2018
The Texas Wetlands brings together three native Texas species—bald eagles, whooping cranes, and American alligators—in a lush wetland habitat. Thanks to the Endangered Species Act and the efforts of Texans, these three species, once close to extinction, now thrive in the Lone Star State.
The fully re-imagined Cypress Circle Café, in the heart of the Zoo, opened just in time for TXU Energy Presents Zoo Lights in November 2018. This conscientious café focuses on providing locally sourced, sustainable fare. Guests can see signature pizzas pass through pizza ovens and watch their seasonal bowl be created in front of them. Cypress Circle Café also overlooks the Kathrine G. McGovern Texas Wetlands and boasts stunning views of the exhibit.
The Hamill Foundation Black Bear Exhibit was the first project to be completed thanks to generous donor support of the Zoo’s Keeping Our World Wild centennial capital campaign. This expansion more than tripled the space for black bears Belle and Willow to explore. The expanded habitat was designed to give the bears the highest quality of life and includes engaging features throughout like a revamped water feature, specially created climbing structures, and ample shade.
Upcoming Construction Projects in 2020:
Wortham World of Primates Access Path - January
Starting in late January, the pathway from the Reflection Pool to the Texas Wetlands will be temporarily closed. To get to the Texas Wetlands, Cypress Circle Café, and beyond, guests will follow detours through the Wortham World of Primates, or Birds of the World.
Front Plaza Gift Shop - January
While the Front Plaza Gift Shop gets redesigned, a temporary white tent has been set up across the plaza (near Macaw Café). Guests can find a wide array of Zoo gifts from animal plush and hats to t-shirts and reusable bags inside the tent!
Fischer Bird Garden - February
Since 1991, the Fischer Bird Garden has delighted guests with up-close encounters with some of the world’s most fascinating birds. This will make room for a brand-new entry plaza experience that will welcome guests into the Galapagos Islands (opening 2022). Guests will continue to see amazing birds from around the world nearby in Tropical Bird House and Birds of the World habitats.
Reptile House - Mid-February
In order to support the incredible water and life support systems needed for the brand-new Galapagos Islands habitat coming in 2022, new utility lines must be established through the front of the Zoo. This means we must close the Reptile and Amphibian House for a few weeks while our construction crews dig and install new pipes.
Macaw Café Closure - Late-March
To make room for the Galapagos Islands, opening in 2022, the Zoo’s restaurant in the Front Plaza will permanently close. Guests can still grab a meal at the brand-new, fully redesigned Cypress Circle Café, or any of the food trucks or kiosks throughout the Zoo.
Temporary Entrance Plan - Mid-May
The main entrance to the Zoo will shift this summer as construction gets underway for the Galapagos Islands, opening in 2022. Guests will still enter through Hermann Park, but look for signs directing you to the temporary entrance!
Orangutan Habitat Updates - June-September
This summer, the Houston Zoo’s orangutan habitat will get an extreme makeover! During the renovation, the great apes will be unable to be seen by our guests. When the space reopens in the Fall, the orangutans will have an all-new climbing structure, more shade, and a beach for the turtles who live in the moat surrounding the orangutan habitat.
By 2022, nearly half of the Houston Zoo’s acreage will be redeveloped into experiential zones that highlight wildlife and ecosystems found in Texas and around the world. With conservation messaging integrated throughout these zones, guests will leave the Zoo inspired to take action to save animals in the wild.
The projects below are part of our Centennial Campaign and Master Plan.
South America’s Pantanal – Summer 2020
Exploring the legendary tropical wetlands of Brazil – home to South America’s greatest concentration of wildlife.
Avian Conservation Center – 2021
Showcasing the Zoo’s diverse family of bird species.
Galapagos Islands – 2022
A first-of-its-kind exhibit starring the landscape and wildlife that made history, plus enhancements to the Houston Zoo’s main entry.