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 as a part of over 900 species that the zoo has to offer, and receives 2.55 million visitors each year and is the second most visited zoo in the United States. The Zoo 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."
Since 2002, the non-profit corporation Houston Zoo Inc. has operated the zoo. Prior to 2002, the Houston Zoo was operated by the City of Houston.
Coined the most ambitious project in the Zoo's 88 year history, the African Forest officially opened on Friday, 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 HoustonPress awarded the Houston Zoo the Best of Houston® Award for Best New Ecosystem.
Including habitats from the coral reefs of the Pacific to the Amazon Basin and the Rift Valley lakes of Africa, this exhibit is home to over 200 species of fresh and saltwater fish, including marine invertebrates. The exhibit 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 is able to boast one of the largest collections in any US zoo with over 200 species and 800 individual birds. Walking through the exhibits, you will see a rage of diverse birds, including the Mariana fruit dove, Cassowaries, Micronesian kingfisher, the Congo peafowl and the Green-winged macaw.
For those who wish to experience the Houston Zoo from the comfort of their own home or business, the Houston Zoo offers nine exhibit webcams; including the Rhino Cam, Elephant Yard Cam and the Leafcutter Ant Cam
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. Wildlife conservation 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, cheetah, and other animals.
Information on these conservation programs can be found at http://www.houstonzoo.org/saving-wildlife/
Shasta VI, the mascot of the University of Houston with a Houston Zoo trainer