At the time of its creation in the early 20th century, the Sam Houston Park consisted of a collection of rabbits, raccoons, Mexican eagles, a black bear, a great horned owl and an alligator pond. Today; that wildlife park is known as the Houston Zoo, and it is home to over 6,000 animals with a variance of over 900 species. In 2002, the Houston Zoo became a non-profit organization and continues to be operated, programmed and cared for by Houston Zoo, Inc. The Zoo’s mission revolves around the conservation, education and exhibition of its endangered species to confidently generate awareness of the mistreatment of these animals.
The African Forest
In December of 2010, the Houston Zoo opened its African Forest exhibit. When the Houston Zoo began construction of this exhibit it was truly their intention to recreate a comfortable habitat for their animals that was similar to the forest landscape of their native homes in Africa. There have been ropes and vines installed for the chimpanzees, a pool for bathing elephants, a muddy watering hole for the rhinos, and an array of larger trees for the giraffes to munch on. As you walk through each of these exhibits you will be able to safely observe each of these animals’ social behaviors, feeding habits, and individual personalities. For all who are interested in feeding the giraffes, the Houston Zoo has an elevated platform and trained Zoo volunteers to assist your interaction.
Reptile and Amphibian Building
Erected in 1960, the Reptile and Amphibian domicile displays over 140 species of reptiles and 40 species of amphibians which totals over 900 different animals! This exhibition is home to some of the world’s most deadly reptiles including the black mamba cobra, the Burmese Python and the Komodo dragon. Guests will be able to observe rare species of chameleon and if you are lucky, you might just be able to see their strange eating habits and unusually large tongue.
McGovern Children’s Zoo/Water Play Park
For all guests of the park who are planning on bringing along children; The John P. McGovern Children’s Zoo is the perfect destination inside of the park to get your kids acquainted with some diverse wildlife. Your children will be able to interact with an assortment of different animals including goats and sheep. The Kathrine McGovern Water Play Park is a great way to cool down from the Texas heat if the kids need a break. Take pictures and enjoy the memories to cherish for years to come!
For an extra $3 per person, park guests have the opportunity to check out the Dinosaurs exhibit and experience a bit of the pre-historic eras that came before us. The Houston Zoo has opted to focus the majority of its dinosaur education around all dinosaurs native to the Texas region. Few may have known that the T-Rex fossils originated from this great state! The Dinosaur exhibit usually makes its appearance every summer and dissipates by the fall. If you’re around Houston for the summer it’s definitely worth a see.
The Houston Zoo is a key activist in conserving wildlife throughout the world. Their conservation efforts range from in-state programs to international programs. For all of those interested in making donations or volunteering, you will surely be able to find more information within the park or follow the instructions displayed on their website.
For all of those who are travelling in from out of state, as I’m sure there are many of you: The Houston Zoo is a great place to go after a long business day or just to cool off some steam before your flight. There are plenty of local hotels nearby as well.