Houston Zoo entrance
|Date opened||September 1922|
|Location||Houston, Texas, United States|
|Land area||55 acres (22 ha)|
|No. of animals||6,000+|
|No. of species||900|
|Annual visitors||2.55 million|
The Houston Zoo is a 55-acre (22 ha) zoological park located within Hermann Park in Houston, Texas, United States. The zoo houses over 6,000 animals from 900 species. It receives 2.55 million visitors each year and is the second most visited zoo in the United States. It is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA).
The Houston Zoo's mission statement is "The Houston Zoo connects communities with animals, inspiring action to save wildlife."
The zoo has been operated by the non-profit corporation Houston Zoo Inc. since 2002, and was previously operated by the City of Houston.
Called the most ambitious project in the zoo's then 88-year history, the African Forest officially opened on December 10, 2010. The exhibit is home to many African species, including Grant's zebra, Speke's gazelle, white rhinoceros, Masai giraffe and common chimpanzee. In 2011, the Houston Press gave the Houston Zoo the Best of Houston® Award for Best New Ecosystem.
The McNair Asian Elephant Habitat is home to the Houston Zoo's herd of Asian elephants. It features a 7,000-square-foot barn custom-built to house the bull elephants, a brand-new expanded habitat with a boardwalk with an unobstructed view of the elephants in their new yard, and a 160,000-gallon pool.
Including habitats from the coral reefs of the Pacific to the Amazon Basin and the Rift Valley lakes of Africa, this exhibit contains over 200 species of fresh and saltwater fish, including marine invertebrates. It is also home to a rescued sea turtle, a large school of piranhas, a green moray eel, the giant pacific octopus and the delicate moon jellyfish.
Featuring three main exhibits, the Fischer Bird Garden, the Tropical Bird House and Birds of the World, the Houston Zoo boasts one of the largest collections in any US zoo, with more than 800 birds from over 200 species. It includes a range of diverse birds, including the Mariana fruit dove, cassowary, Micronesian kingfisher, Congo peafowl and green-winged macaw.
The Houston Zoo is an active partner in the AZA's Species Survival Plan (SSP) Program, a population management and conservation program for selected species housed in North American zoos.
The zoo supports more than a dozen conservation projects in Texas and across the globe that assist in the survival of endangered wildlife and habitats. Projects include the Houston toad, Texas sea turtle, Attwater's prairie chicken, gorilla, Galapagos tortoise, Bornean orangutan, elephant, clouded leopard, African lion, frogs, Brazilian tapir, rhinoceros, African wild dog, chimpanzee, okapi, and cheetah.
Shasta VI, the mascot of the University of Houston, with a Houston Zoo trainer