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Houston Zoo

Coordinates: 29°42′58.074″N 95°23′26.05″W / 29.71613167°N 95.3905694°W / 29.71613167; -95.3905694
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Houston Zoo
Houston Zoo entrance
29°42′58.074″N 95°23′26.05″W / 29.71613167°N 95.3905694°W / 29.71613167; -95.3905694
Date openedSeptember 1922
LocationHouston, Texas, United States
Land area55 acres (22 ha)
No. of animals6,000+[1]
No. of species900+[1]
Annual visitors2 million[1]
OwnerHouston Zoo Inc.

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 more than 900 species. It receives around 2 million visitors each year and is the second most visited zoo in the United States, surpassed only by the San Diego Zoo.[3] 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 since 2002, and was previously operated by the City of Houston.


Due to the successful repopulation of American bison in the country, the United States government had an excess of bison on managed lands and donated several bison. Earl was a bison that was donated in 1922 and he would be the zoo's first animal.[3]


African Forest[edit]

Ankole resting in the shade

Called the most ambitious project in the zoo's then 88-year history, the African Forest officially opened on December 10, 2010.[4] The exhibit is home to many African species, including the Grant's zebra, white rhinoceros, red river hog, Masai giraffe, ostrich, chimpanzee, and western lowland gorilla.[5] In 2011, the Houston Press gave the Houston Zoo the Best of Houston® Award for Best New Ecosystem.[6] In November 24, 2020, a new male Pygmy hippopotamus named Silas first arrived to the Houston Zoo from the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha. Silas died due to an illness on October 10, 2022. [7]

McNair Asian Elephant Habitat[edit]

Asian elephant enjoying a broccoli treat

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.[citation needed]


Scarlet macaw (Ara macao)

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, Micronesian kingfisher, Congo peafowl, and green-winged macaw.[8]


Hosting the University of Houston's mascot Shasta the Cougar, the carnivore exhibit is also home to the lion, Malayan tiger, clouded leopard, American black bear, African wild dog, leopard, and cheetah.[9]

Allen H. and Ethel G. Carruth Natural Encounters[edit]

The Allen H. and Ethel G. Carruth Natural Encounters is a special building at the zoo where an adventure through an entire continent is simulated. Visitors learn about animals from the river’s edge, rainforest canopy, desert, and coral reef. Animals housed in the exhibit include the Asian small-clawed otter, Damaraland mole-rat, golden lion tamarin, golden-headed lion tamarin, meerkat, naked mole-rat, Pygmy marmoset, white-faced saki, Hoffmann's two-toed sloth, Eastern collared lizard, and Victoria crowned pigeon.

Wortham World of Primates[edit]

A winding boardwalk through a natural setting, this exhibit displays a variety of rare and endangered primates, including lemurs, monkeys, gibbons, and orangutans.

Texas Wetlands[edit]

Opened in March 2019, this new exhibit displays three native species: American alligators, whooping cranes, and bald eagles.

Reptile and Amphibian House[edit]

This building displays several venomous reptiles and exotic amphibians, including the blue iguana, crocodile monitor, and reticulated python.

Bug House[edit]

Opened in 2014, this exhibit displays several insects and arachnids from a variety of forests, jungles, and deserts.

John P. McGovern Children’s Zoo[edit]

This area features a petting zoo and a realistic bat cave.

South America's Pantanal[edit]

The South America's Pantanal is a 4.2-acre exhibit that opened on October 10, 2020. It displays the blue-throated macaw, jaguar, giant river otter, Baird's tapir, greater rhea, capybara, and giant anteater.

Galapagos Islands[edit]

This exhibit, opening April 7th, 2023, focuses on the animals and habitats found in the Galapagos Islands, featuring species including Galapagos tortoises, Humboldt penguins, California sea lions, Peruvian pelicans, bonnethead sharks, and Sally Lightfoot crabs.

Live webcams[edit]

The zoo offers nine exhibit webcams, including the Rhino Cam,[10] Elephant Yard Cam,[11] and Leafcutter Ant Cam.[12]


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, sea turtle, Attwater's prairie chicken, Galapagos tortoise, Bornean orangutan, elephant, clouded leopard, African lion, frogs, Brazilian tapir, rhinoceros, African wild dog, chimpanzee, okapi, and cheetah.



  1. ^ a b c Hodge, Shelby (June 25, 2021). "Houston Zoo Named One of the Best in America By National Mag With Travel Clout — Move Over San Diego". Paper City Magazine.
  2. ^ "Currently Accredited Zoos and Aquariums". aza.org. AZA. Retrieved September 13, 2011.
  3. ^ a b Shilcutt, Katharine. "The Houston Zoo Is the Second Most-Visited Zoo in the Nation, All Thanks to You". Houstonia. SagaCity Media. Retrieved February 22, 2017.
  4. ^ Peter Riger Wednesday, Nov. 24, 2010 (November 24, 2010). "The Making of the African Forest - Houston Zoo". houstonzoo.org. Retrieved March 1, 2017.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link) CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  5. ^ The African Forest - Houston Zoo, houstonzoo.org, retrieved March 1, 2017
  6. ^ The African Forest, Houston Zoo - Best New Ecosystem, houstonpress.com, retrieved March 1, 2017
  7. ^ "Remembering Pygmy Hippo Silas".
  8. ^ Kipp Aquarium - Houston Zoo, houstonzoo.org, retrieved March 1, 2017
  9. ^ About the Carnivores - Houston Zoo, houstonzoo.org, retrieved March 1, 2017
  10. ^ Rhino Cam
  11. ^ Elephant Yard Cam
  12. ^ Leafcutter Ant Cam

External links[edit]