Program areas at Houston Zoo
See Schedule OHouston Zoo, Inc. (HZI) is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), America's leading accrediting organization for zoos and aquariums. AZA accredits only those institutions that have achieved the highest standards for animal and veterinary care, safety practices, education, wildlife conservation, and science.HZI is one of 237 AZA-accredited institutions - essential to accomplishing its mission to connect communities with animals and inspire action to save wildlife. HZI does this guided by the following principles: 1) Be a zoo for all; 2) Provide exemplary animal care, assuring outstanding animal welfare; 3) Deliver a smart, fun, inspiring guest experience; 4) Be the leading environmental education resource in Texas; 5) Inspire broad community support and collaborations; 6) Change behaviors to help protect wildlife; 7) Create a workplace culture that embodies respect, empowerment, teamwork, and personal development; 8) Employ best business practices and sound financial management; 9) Ensure safety for guests, staff and the animals in our care; and 10) Operate sustainably and set an example for others.HZI's animal collection is among the largest and most well-rounded in the nation, providing our guests with opportunities to enjoy and learn about the diversity of the natural world. HZI's veterinary team is also among the best in the nation, responsible for an ambitious preventive medicine program that includes routine health exams, vaccinations, and ongoing health surveillance. HZI is recognized as a leader in the global movement to save wildlife, including several Texas native species such as Attwater's Prairie Chicken, Houston Toad, Whooping Crane and Kemp Ridley Sea Turtle. HZI's Centennial Master Plan, a multi-year effort to construct conservation-minded, multi-species exhibits for the public and make critical improvements to its 100-year-old infrastructure, overcame pandemic-related construction challenges to complete the South American Pantanal exhibit. This immersive, 4.5-acre project (opened in October 2020) highlights the extraordinary biological diversity of the world's largest freshwater wetland with multiple exhibits, featuring jaguars, giant anteaters, giant river otters, anacondas, and more, with a focus on conservation efforts in the Pantanal and HZI's many-year support of those programs.Under the guidance of the Houston Health Department, HZI also implemented wide-ranging protocols to mitigate COVID-19 transmission by protecting guests, staff and animals. Measures included timed ticket entry, contactless transactions, hand sanitizers throughout the grounds, physical distance signage, masking indoors, and much more.In keeping with its mission to be a "Zoo for All," the demographics of Zoo attendance continues to closely match the demographics of the City of Houston's population. HZI takes pride in its vital presence in the community and will continue to cultivate community engagement utilizing traditional marketing mediums (television, print, radio, outdoor) as well as digital and social media. Though attendance was limited due to pandemic-related capacity constraints, almost 25% of guests visited the Zoo free of charge or at a heavily discounted price through HZI's multifaceted approach to ensure all Houstonians, regardless of means, have access. Lone Star cardholding guests could bring 2 adults and 3 children for $6 each, a 70% discount off regular price, and Military ID holding guests could bring up to 2 adults and 3 children at a 50% discount. 172,627 Lone Star Card and Military ID holding guests took advantage of these programs. In 2010 HZI eliminated its original free days in favor of monthly free Tuesdays to eliminate problems created for the Texas Medical Center as traffic gridlock on those days adversely affected emergency vehicle access to emergency rooms. With this program, guests now have 12 opportunities to attend the Zoo for free over the course of a year. During 2022, HZI provided free admission to 242,858 guests, mainly during our monthly Free Tuesday day. Total gate attendance was 1,663,111 and our Zoo Lights celebration accounted for 205,368 guests during 2022. HZI Community Support consists of adult volunteer, Junior League, and Master Naturalist volunteer hours. In 2022, 434 adult volunteers donated 31,550 hours to HZI by participating in activities from animal care and horticulture to administration, event support, education, and conservation.
See Schedule O The Houston Zoo's Conservation Education Department aims to ignite in all people a passion for lifelong learning and conservation by creating connections between guests and nature. Formal and informal education programs promote scientific inquiry through hands-on experiences with living plants and animals, leading to increased learning. During this reporting period, the Houston Zoo's Conservation Education Department personnel conducted interpretive programs on the grounds reaching approximately 557,906 participants. The Zoo's conservation education programs offer a continuum of learning from birth to adulthood including fee-based educational programs, on-site live interpretation, adult volunteers, and interpretive planning. Fee-based programs include family programs, early childhood programs, teen programs, summer camp, and overnights. Camp Zoofari, a popular summer program at the Zoo, provides ages 6-14 with immersive experiences led by our professional camp guides.Conservation Education Programs (1/1/2022 to 12/31/2022): Total persons served: 566,507 (includes onsite guest interactions by staff, teens and volunteer interpreters, pre-schedule fee-based programming)The Houston Zoo values being a "Zoo for All." Conservation Education supports this value by offering free weeklong summer camp experiences for need-based children ages 6-12. In addition, we partner with school campuses across the Greater Houston region to support students in their wildlife-saving initiatives at no cost to the school or students; as well as awarding college scholarships to our Zoo Crew teens that are graduating out of the program to college. We also offer outreach ZooMobile programs at no cost to Houston-area community partners.Summer Camp scholarships: 172 campersSaving Wildlife School Partnerships: 1720 students and educatorsZooMobiles: 28 programs reaching 1470 Houston community membersZoo Crew teen college scholarships: 4 teens
See Schedule OHZI's Wildlife Conservation Program is a critical mission component and connects communities with animals to inspire wildlife saving action. In 2022, HZI's Wildlife Conservation Program supported nearly 33 partnerships protecting wildlife in 17 countries, including the United States, Central and South America, Africa, and Asia.Regionally, HZI worked with local, state and federal organizations and local communities to support wildlife and habitat research and conservation measures. Reintroduction programs for the endangered Houston Toad included a nearly 1 million toad egg release in Bastrop County with USFWS and Texas State University partners. Work to reintroduce Texas's most critically endangered bird, the Attwater's Prairie Chicken, back into its native habitat continued at the Attwater's Prairie Chicken National Refuge in Sealy, TX. And 2022 marked HZI's sixth year of support for Whooping Crane recovery along the Central Texas coast. Efforts include habitat protection along with community outreach and awareness programs. All HZI conservation programs are based on long-term close working partnerships and include habitat protection along with community outreach and awareness programs to create the greatest possible impact. Local partners include Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, US Fish and Wildlife Service, Texas State University, NOAA Marine Fisheries, Texas A&M University at Galveston, Association of Zoos and Aquariums, Galveston Bay Foundation, Attwater's Prairie Chicken National Refuge, NASA's Johnson Space Center, and many others.Internationally, HZI's conservation efforts are focused on critical regions and species linked to the animals in its collection. This is accomplished through partnerships with leading conservationists, organizations, zoos, and aquariums around the world. The connection between HZI's partners and its collection is typified by the Pantanal exhibit's focus on efforts in Brazil to protect key species such as Tapirs, Giant Anteaters, Giant Otters, and Jaguars. By effectively communicating this connection, Zoo guests can see the purchase of their admission and memberships as critical support for wildlife across the globe. Another major focus is directed at reducing threats to wildlife affected by plastic pollution.