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Resistant to pests and disease in Houston’s climate, this rose has a lovely bloom, with the look of an antique specimen.

French Lace Rose Rosa 'French Lace'

A florist favorite, this compact form of the classic flower lasts up to two weeks in a vase when cut.

Star flowers behave as perennials in Houston gardens. Planting pentas guarantees butterflies and hummingbirds in your yard.

IT'S A POSTER! Pull out the poster and enjoy this Wildlife feature. Hundreds of thousands of different plant species across the world make an important impact on human and animal life each day. Appealing to all senses, plants provide a wide range of functions and benefits across the world. From medical remedies passed on for generations to tried and true expressions of human affection, nothing evokes such strong feelings quite like a plant or flower. The Houston Zoo's dedication to a rich, biologically diverse ecosystem is brought to life through our horticulture department's use of beautiful, interdependent plant life.

Star Flower Pentas lanceolata


The Houston Zoo is a 501(c) (3) not-for-profit organization.

Houston Zoo, Inc. Board of Directors E. William Barnett Freda Wilkerson Bass Nandita Berry Jack S. Blanton, Sr. – Emeritus Winfield M. Campbell, Sr. Cathy Campbell Brock Jan Cody Jonathan Day Linnet Deily Anne Duncan James A. Elkins, III Martyn Goossen Robert Graham – Chair Don R. Kendall, Jr. Glenn L. Lowenstein


Cal McNair Stacy Methvin Stephen D. Newton Suzanne Paquin Nimocks Charles Onstead Courtney Lanier Sarofim Cathryn Selman Louis Sklar Herman L. Stude Shawn Taylor Lori Vetters Bonnie Weekley George R. Willy E. W. Bill Wright III Austin Young

Celebrating Their Memory



On the cover: Toby, the red panda Photo by: Stephanie Adams

Pink Powderpuff Calliandra emarginata

Wildlife Production Team Editor: Michael Reina Creative Director: Melanie Campbell-Tello Design: Melanie Campbell-Tello Photography by: Stephanie Adams, Joe Kalla, Bill Konstant, Dale Martin, Rick Barongi, Bobbi Samuels, Peter Riger, Daryl Hoffman, and Tim Junker Postmaster: Send address changes to: Wildlife Magazine Houston Zoo, Inc. 1513 North MacGregor Houston, Texas 77030


Red Panda-monium

How To Reach Us: Houston Zoo, Inc.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 713-533-6500


Education. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 713-533-6739 Marketing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 713-533-6835 Membership. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 713-533-6726

Become Bear Aware Jungle flames prefer acidic soil and full sun, which

Development . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 713-533-6819 Public Relations/Media. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 713-533-6531 Zoo Hours:

Dwarf Peruvian Lily Alstromeria 'Dandy Candy'


gives them a brilliant color for most of the year.

Leadwort Plumbago auriculata

March 8 through November 1 9:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m. (last ticket sold at 6:00 p.m.) November 2 through March 7 9:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. (last ticket sold at 5:00 p.m.) Scarlet Milkweed Asclepias curassavica The Zoo is closed Christmas Day. Wildlife is published by Houston Zoo, Inc., 1513 North MacGregor, Houston, Texas 77030. ©Houston Zoo, Inc., 2009. All rights reserved. Subscription by membership only.


Jungle Flame


The Houston Zoo is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. The official airline In Texas, scarlet milkweeds provide habitat to butterflies of the Houston Zoo

that may have otherwise been lost to development.

Printed on 10% post-consumer waste recycled paper with soy-based inks Princess Flower Tibouchina urvilleana


PRE S I D E N T ' S P R I D E 2008 was a challenging year for all Americans. On top of the past year's financial difficulties, Houstonians will always think of Hurricane Ike and its exceptional challenges. At the Zoo, when we think of 2008, elephants will be foremost in our minds. In late summer, we had the exciting arrival of Tess and her 3-year-old calf, Tucker. They have been wonderful additions and have charmed all of us with their great attitudes and intelligent behavior. However, November brought us the very sudden death of our beloved baby elephant, Mac, just one month after he turned two. Mac, as you all know, warmed everyone’s hearts with his incredible antics. He was often seen with a mischievous twinkle in his eye as he looked to cause trouble. Who can forget him tossing the huge tire around as if it was weightless, or him barreling across the exhibit to jump on his sand hill? He was always good for endless hours of entertainment. His passing has left a huge hole in all of our hearts. However, his death enabled us to form a new partnership with researchers at the Baylor College of Medicine, in the hopes of finding a breakthrough in the fight against elephant herpes, the disease which has killed Mac and Asian elephants in both zoos and the wild. It is only through this critical research that we may be able to find a

way to control elephant herpes.

Mac, as you all know, warmed everyone’s hearts with his incredible antics. He was often seen with a mischievous twinkle in his eye as he looked to cause trouble.

In 2009, we are looking forward to introducing new animals to you. We have become the third zoo in the U.S. to display shoebill storks, with two young birds from central Africa. They are a relative of the stork, stand five feet tall, and have what appears to be a large wooden shoe (hence the name shoebill) for a beak. Our other new and exciting bird is a cassowary, which is slightly larger than an emu and is indigenous to Australia and New Guinea. They can be up to six feet tall and are incredibly fast runners with sharp, dangerous claws on their feet. Their most distinct features are their beautiful blue and red wattles. By the time you read this letter, we will be preparing to open our new red panda exhibit. As you will have heard, this is one of the “cutest animals in the world.” They come from Nepal and western China, and thus have dense, long red hair to insulate themselves in their native cold climates. Here, he will live in air-conditioned comfort where the koalas were formerly housed. Though a relative of the giant panda, they have a face that resembles a fox and a tail that looks like a raccoon, mirroring the “cutest” features of several animals. In addition to our new animals, 2009 will bring continued improvements to the grounds in our goal of making the Houston Zoo one of the very best zoos in the country; we believe Houston deserves that. Come see us soon and help us welcome our new arrivals. They are each unique and well worth a visit!

DEBORAH CANNON President & CEO 2 | HOUSTON ZOO | w w w. h o u s t o n z o o . o r g

NEW ANIMAL UPDATES CASSOWARY Cassowaries are very large flightless birds with stunning appearances and aggressive demeanors to match. With royal blue necks, fleshy red wattles, and black bills with yellow marks, these massive birds leave an impression on anyone or anything that gets near them. Each cassowary has an easy-to-distinguish, fin-like skeletal protuberance called a casque rising out of the top of its head. Adorned with black feathers, powerful legs, and a daggerlike claw on each foot, they remain only in limited numbers in the tropical forests of New Guinea and Australia. Their bright faces and dark plumage make these dangerous birds an unusual member of the animal kingdom and a exciting addition to the Zoo's bird collection.

SHOEBILL Only a few zoos in the world have shoebills, so the Houston Zoo's addition of this young pair of big African birds is a significant achievement for our bird department. Named after their prominent shoe-shaped bills, shoebills are a vulnerable bird species whose feathers turn completely gray as they mature. Their large heads, eyes, and bills help them find food in muddy swamps. Shoebills can grow as tall as five feet, boast a nearly eight-foot wingspan, and weigh up to fifteen pounds. Despite their large size, relatively little is known about their habits in the wild. While some taxonomists consider them to be in the stork family, many others believe the birds are more closely related to pelicans.



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If we were to mourn a personal loss forever, we would never be able to move forward with our own lives. Instead, we learn to cherish the memories and celebrate their lives and the impact these great animals had on others.

CELEBRATING THEIR MEMORY A personal account by Rick Barongi, Zoo Director Unlike Mickey Mouse and his imaginary cohorts, zoo animals

Like joy and sorrow, life and death are emotional partners

are real and have finite life spans. One of the most difficult

that are intertwined so as to reinforce each other. There

aspects of working in a zoo is dealing

would be no real joy without ever hav-

with the loss of a favorite animal. The

ing experienced sorrow and vice versa.

loss of a loved one is never easy, but

There has to be a point of reference in

in time that emptiness is replaced

order to appreciate something or some-

with special memories that continue

one. While that may sound a bit prosaic,

to enrich our lives and much more.

the reality is that we humans have a unique, almost miraculous capacity to

Since dealing with the death of a

transform our feelings for a special in-

loved one is such a personal experi-

dividual towards helping others that we

ence, I can only explain it from my

Long-time volunteer Toni Noble gives a tribute to Mac.

do not know. We can better sympathize

perspective. I have a picture in my of-

with the plights of others due to a loss

fice of a dog I once had. His name was

that is more personal.

Barkley. Barkley was a big lug of a yellow lab who never met a person he

A case in point – the tragic loss of Mac

did not like. He was taken from us far

was extremely difficult for all of us, but

too early, due to an aggressive form

during his two years he was a great am-

of cancer. The first few days after he

bassador for his species. He touched so

was gone, I cried when I looked at his

many of us with his endearing antics, which in turn inspired his admirers to

picture. Then, as time passed, I began to smile every time I looked at that

Attendees at Mac's memorial

learn more about elephants and support conservation efforts. We will never for-

photo and remembered all the good times we shared. It also helps that we have his son, Apollo, to

get Mac, but nature (biology) provides new beginnings. We

carry on the legacy. This "circle of life" mentality is pretty much

can look forward to more elephant calves in the future, as

how most zoo people deal with animal deaths.

well as giraffes (like Miles, our new male giraffe) and many other species.

If we were to mourn a personal loss forever, we would never be able to move forward with our own lives. Instead, we learn to

So, when we lose an animal at the Zoo it is OK to be sad and

cherish the memories and celebrate their lives and the impact

grieve, but it is also OK to use the memory of that animal to

these great animals had on others. In the case of Zoo celebri-

move forward in helping those that are still with us. Every

ties like Mac (or Bu the rhino and Roscoe the sea lion, to name

animal should have a legacy that transcends their life at the

a few), we learn to grieve with both our hearts and our heads.

Zoo. We are not doing our job as wildlife conservationists if

We have this dual personality, or right and left brain rationale,

our visitors do not care about our animals almost as much

that allows us to care deeply about a personal tragedy, but

as we do. At the same time, the memory of a particular ani-

appreciate the bigger picture. These Zoo superstars inspired

mal should commit us to greater efforts on behalf of their

millions of people to care more about their species as well as

living brethren, in both zoos and the wild. Of course, we will

the conservation of their nameless counterparts in the wild. If

always have new arrivals to carry on the “goodwill ambassa-

these animals were never born, as some fringe groups would

dor� role of our departed friends. This cycle of life is the very

advocate, we would lose a powerful motivating tool that no

essence of zoos and illustrates the critical role they play in

wildlife film or animated caricature could replace.

reaffirming our compassion for all living things.





TH E I M P O RTA N C E O F H O RT I C U LT U R E The earth's ecosystem is infinitely complex and needs committed people to maintain its health. Our forests are shrinking, reducing carbon sequestering and lowering oxygen production. Each day, places as close as Louisiana are losing areas of land the size of a football field due to soil erosion and plant loss. Horticulture, a science dating back to the earliest hunter-gatherers, is essential to the preservation of our planet. Without measures to ensure continued plant coverage across the globe, our environment as a whole would eventually dissipate and life as we know it would never be the same. This is why horticulture is a main component to sustaining the planet. Our Zoo horticulturists work tirelessly to keep the landscape healthy, vibrant, and colorful. We have a fully functioning ecosystem designed to make each day a more natural and aesthetically-pleasing experience for our animals and guests.

Your life should be inspired by the love of plants and their essential function in the preservation of our planet. – Ed Santos, Houston Zoo Horticulturist

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THE GROWT H O F H O RT I C U LT UR E The horticulture team's contribution over the past decade cannot be understated. Making our Zoo a livable place for thousands of animals while keeping it bright and colorful for our guests' enjoyment requires dedication and ingenuity.

N E W H O U S T ON ZOO B L O G S C O MING SOON From sun up to sun down, our horticulture staff works to make the Houston Zoo the

A focused effort to reduce the presence of the highly invasive Chinese tallow tree has allowed horticulturists to diversify the Houston Zoo's plant collection. The Chinese tallow is the same pest that devastated the native region of the

most natural, lush, and colorful place in the city to spend time with your family. Now, finding out how they keep our 55-acre ecosystem beautiful and functional is just a click away.

Attwater's Prairie Chicken, an animal our conservationists

The Zoo's horticulture team is a collective

have helped repopulate in the wild.

wealth of gardening knowledge. Get inside information about our team's planting tech-

Other innovations in our horticulture department include

niques and how you can apply them to your

an all-green fertilization process, limited to no use of insec-

own backyard garden at home. Learn about

ticide, and a sharp increase in the efficiency of our irrigation system. Hundreds of trees and wholesale landscaping across the entire Zoo ensure that the landscape and biodiversity are constantly evolving and new every day.

the Zoo from those who know it best. Check soon for our horticulture blog, as well as others addressing education and conservation.

Our horticulture team, led by plant expert Ed Santos, has grown from just a pair to a dozen people over the past five years. Coming from various backgrounds and degrees of experience, the crew all shares the same passion and goal to keep the Houston Zoo weed-free, lively, and diverse. Next time you visit, be sure to take a few moments to appreciate the Zoo's distinctive scenery.



seeing red


hort winters lead to an early spring here in Houston, and with it, the Zoo’s landscaping comes alive with vibrant

colors. This spring, the Houston Zoo is ushering in our very own brand of brightly-colored wildlife with the red panda, one of the world’s

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cutest animals. >>


Over the years, the red panda has undergone an identity crisis of sorts, living in the shadow of the better known giant panda. The red panda's name comes from the Nepalese word “poonya”, which means bamboo eater. Its Latin name (Ailurus fulgens) refers to the striking, cat-like markings which camoflauge them in the lichen and moss-covered trees. The first written record of this species comes from an ancient Chinese Chou Dynasty scroll, but it was not officially discovered by the Europeans until the early 1800s. Nearly 50 years later, the 1869 discovery of the giant panda led to a significant disinterest in red panda research.

The Houston Zoo welcomes our new red panda, Toby, from Chicago’s Lincoln Park Zoo.

Best known for their exquisite red coats and white to reddish-brown facial mask, the red panda is most active at dawn and dusk in their native habitats. They are superb climbers and spend most of their time curled up in trees with their long, bushy tails wrapped around their heads. Other than when adult females are caring for their young, red pandas live solitary lives, only coming together to reproduce during a brief breeding season. When encountering another panda, they often communicate with body language or vocalizations such as a whistle, twitter, or threatening huff-quack. Across their entire range, red pandas are mainly plant eaters, surviving on the leaves of the many different species of bamboo. Only the red panda, giant panda, two types of bamboo rats, and one species of lemur from Madagascar can survive on a strict bamboo diet. The red panda’s adaptation to bamboo has shaped their behavior; they spend up to half the day in search of tender new bamboo leaves. Red pandas live in temperate Himalayan forests stretching from Nepal to Myanmar and in the southwestern Chinese mountains at altitudes between 5,000 and 13,000 feet. Their region's temperature remains fairly cool and constant, supporting the mix of forest trees, undergrowth, and bamboo on which red pandas depend. Human disturbance has taken a considerable toll on the animal across its range, so bringing the red panda to the Houston Zoo gives us an opportunity to educate our visitors about red pandas in their native habitat. Zoos across the globe are collaborating to study the red panda, and we are striving to maintain genetically viable populations while developing conservation strategies to protect them and their habitat. We are privileged to bring such a fascinating and attractive animal to Houston.



SUM M E R C A M P S 2 0 0 9 Ages 6-7

Ages 4-5

Adv e n t u r e s i n t h e R a i n f o r e s t

NEW! Bringing Up Baby

Enter the depths of the rainforest and discover some of the

All animal parents have a special way to raise their babies,

world's most intriguing creatures. Learn about the many

and sometimes even the neighbors get involved! Join us as we

jewels of the rainforest ecosystem, from poison dart frogs

look at the different kinds of families in the animal world.

to Asian elephants.

Hide and Seek NEW ! A l l S o r t s o f A n i m a l s Are reptiles slimy? Do birds have hair? We’ll uncover how animals are the same – and how they are different – as we investigate where they live, how they look, and what they do.

Uncover the animals' secrets to survival as we disappear into the hidden world of camouflage. Discover how spots, stripes, patterns, and colors protect both predators and prey.

NEW! Island Hoppers Take an exotic getaway this summer – without ever leaving

It’s R a i n i n g W i ld C a t s a n d D o g s Meet the fantastic felines and clever canines at the Houston Zoo! Join in the flood of fun as we discover the similarities and differences between these "wild" relatives and your pets at home.

NEW ! O p p o s i t e s A t t r a c t

the Zoo! We'll travel the islands of Madagascar, Indonesia, Galapagos, and more, discovering the animals that call each island home.

Scat Attack Who has the smelliest poop? Who never poops at all? Learn the ins and outs of poop as you become a junior scatologist and discover the answers to all these questions and more!

Fast and slow, big and small, the Houston Zoo has got them all! From cheetahs to tortoises, elephants to naked mole rats, we'll look at examples of opposites from around the world.

Toadally Amphibians From tadpole to frog to polliwog, we'll uncover what makes an amphibian unique. You'll have a hopping good time as you metamorph from an amphibian amateur to an all-out

C AMP ZOOFARI Summer 2009 Camp Zoofari is an action-packed, hands-on, week-long day camp for kids ages 4 - 12. Kids learn about the natural world, wildlife conservation, and the animals that call the Houston Zoo home. These educational, fun-filled camps fill quickly, so be sure to register soon. See all camp dates and times at summercamps.

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amphibian expert!

Ages 8-9

Ages 10 -12

Afr i c a n A d v e n t u r e

Destination Conser vation

Join us for a summer safari to this incredibly diverse

Partner with the planet and the Houston Zoo as you find out

continent. Pack your gear, grab your passport, and

what it takes to be a wildlife conservationist. Enjoy hands-

explore Africa in search of rainforest, desert, and

on conservation activities and conduct genuine field work

savannah animals on your week-long expedition.

using some of the same tools field biologists use, and meet Zoo staff members who participate in conservation projects

NEW ! G a r d e n S a f a r i Did you know that there are plants that live at the

around the globe. A Thursday night overnight is included.

Zoo too? Dig into the botanical side of the Houston

NEW! Keeper Camp

Zoo and learn how keepers use plants for animal diets,

Enroll for zookeeper boot camp and learn what it's like to

enrichment activities, and more!

feed, clean, train, and take care of our animals. This is one time it will be okay to get dirty and messy!

NEW ! G l o b e Tr o t t e r s No passport is required for this trip around the world as we investigate animals in their native lands. Learn how people and animals coexist, and bring home your own eco-friendly "souvenirs."

W il d l i f e D e t e c t i v e s Mystery surrounds this week as you use clues such as animals sounds, smells, and scat to identify "zoo" done it. Perfect your scientific detective skills and even put them to use in your own backyard!

NEW! Selected for Sur vival We’ll research how animal variations are passed on to the next generation, how species adapt to their environment, and the importance of these differences in keeping populations healthy.

NEW! Zoobots Build your own zoo complete with animals! Create a largescale zoo animal, design its exhibit, and present your project to Zoo staff. A Thursday night overnight is included.



The stingray's mouth is used for feeding and respiration. Stingrays have a secondary method of breathing through a spiracle located near their eyes.

Though numbers vary based on species, stingrays usually give live birth to 4-8 pups.

Gill slits are used to expel water and waste.

Stingrays have very rough, sandpaper-like skin, a common trait among cartilagenous fishes.

S T I N G R AY SEPTUPLETS In late 2008, the Houston Zoo's Kipp Aquarium was proud to announce the birth of seven

Stingrays are sexually dimorphic, and males develop claspers as they mature.

baby stingray pups. Their mother, who was rescued by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 2004, has now given live birth to four litters here at the Zoo. Native to South American rivers, checkerboard freshwater stingrays (Potamotrygon schroederi) are basically miniature adults at birth. Their pectoral fins act as modified wings, which allow them to gracefully glide through water. Even at just a few weeks old, a checkerboard stingray is able to fend off its predators by inflicting a very painful sting with the barbs at the end of its tail. Before you come by the Kipp Aquarium or Natural Encounters building to see our stingrays and other water-dwelling plants and animals, watch video of our new pups at

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Barbs at the end of stingray tails pose the biggest threat to their predators.

DEVELOPMENT NEWS Z o o F r i ends Family Party: THE BEASTS GO O N Co-chairs Sherri Hughey and Kelley Lubanko invite you and your family to flashback to the psychedelic 60s. Join Zoo Friends of Houston on Friday, May 1, 2009 from 6:30 p.m. - 10:30 p.m. for the 2009 Family Party: The Beasts Go On. This fun, family-friendly event raises money for a great cause – our Houston Zoo. Guests will enjoy far out food, funky entertainment, and go-go groovin’ in the natural Zoo setting. This year, the Zoo Friends of Houston is happy to recognize Katherine McGovern as honorary chair and will honor the memory of Dr. John P. McGovern, an internationally-known humanitarian who was passionate about our city and the education of its children. Together the McGoverns have demonstrated extraordinary leadership in support of the Zoo’s education and animal conservation programs over the years – most notably through their support of the John P. McGovern Children’s Zoo. Individual Tickets: Adults: $150 Children: $75 Table and Ticket information: Far Out Flamingos


Psychedelic Sea Lions


Too Cool Toucans


Groovy Gators


Outta Site Okapis


For information on table sponsorships or ticket sales please contact

Gnarly Gnus


Ginger Moon at (713) 533-6584 or

Asant e M e m b e r s P a r t i c i p ate in a Mor ning of Under water Fun On January 10, members of the Zoo’s Asante Society and their families gathered in the Kipp Aquarium for an up-close experience with some of our favorite underwater friends. Refreshments in hand, members toured the aquarium and watched our new octopus devour a live crab. Afterwards, our 500-pound sea lion Deano joined in on the fun and welcomed our guests to a breakfast reception (pictured left). Asante members then engaged in an informative question and answer session with Rick Barongi and Deborah Cannon while they enjoyed a hearty breakfast. For information on upcoming Asante Society events please contact Nick Espinosa at (713) 533-6712 or WILDLIFE | SPRING 2009 |


BECOM E B E A R AWA R E There may be no better time to be outdoors in East Texas than in the spring. Just a short drive into East Texas could bring you to the Big Thicket National Preserve, one of the most biodiverse areas in the world, consisting of nine land units and six water corridors. Established less than 40 years ago, the Big Thicket was the first preserve in the national park system and protects an area over 97,000 acres in size. The preserve is recognized as a Globally Important Bird Area, hosting nearly 300 species of migratory and nesting birds. Described as the biological crossroads of North America, the area contains over 100 species of trees and shrubs, with more than 5,000 species of flowering plants and ferns, including 20 orchids and four types of carnivorous plants. The Big Thicket is home to a number of native mammals from shrews and squirrels to deer and bobcats. A past resident of the East Texas region and a focus of the Houston Zoo's local conservation efforts is the Louisiana Black Bear, which is now a federally protected species. The last native East Texas bear was believed to have been killed in the Pineywoods of Polk County in the late 1950s, but they are slowly returning to their historic East Texas range. Primarily composed of transient, solitary males, there is no current evidence of a resident breeding population of black bears in East Texas. Come to the Houston Zoo to get bear aware at our annual Bear Awareness Day this May 16, 2009. During Bear Awareness Day, our zookeepers will offer camping tips with assistance from our spectacled and grizzly bears during humorous good camper/bad camper skits. Find out how to make your campsite bear proof, learn how bears live by exploring the Bear Maze, and find out if our keepers are smarter than your average bear. Go to for more details and activities.

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G R I Z ZLIES CHASE THE BLUES AWAY, S E T T L E I N T O T H E I R G O L D E N Y E A R S Looking at our grizzly bears basking in bright sunlight, it is hard to imagine the dire, squalid conditions in which they were forced to live until just two years ago. Along with nine other bears and two tigers, Boomer and Bailey were confiscated by law enforcement in Gonzales and relocated by the Houston Zoo and Houston SPCA. This daring rescue from an illegal animal holding facility was recognized on Animal Planet. After being cruelly confined for most of their lives in cages so small they could barely even turn around, the pair now resides in a nearly 2,000-square-foot exhibit. Thanks to a generous donation from Philip and Denise Bahr, the grizzlies now have the luxury of a multi-tiered, cascading exhibit with rich greenery and a pool, set against a mountainous rock background. Boomer and Bailey have always been very receptive to their human friends and frequently participate in enrichment activities with zookeepers. The bears have come a long way since arriving here and are enjoying their late twenties in good health, especially considering their prior conditions. Hollie Colahan, Curator of Primates and Carnivores, explains that the bears were overweight, in need of dental work, and suffering from arthritis upon their initial arrival. Since then, both have successfully lost weight, undergone extensive dental work, and regularly take arthritis medication, thanks to the patient work of our hard-working animal keepers. It is easy to indulge in the joy of fresh air, sunlight, and blue skies – but often even easier to take these wonderful forces of nature for granted. Remember this next time you see Boomer and Bailey relaxing on a beautiful day, and know that the Houston Zoo helped improve their lives. Sometimes light can shine upon even the most bleak of circumstances, and in this case, two neglected, unfortunate grizzly bears saw hope in the form of a group of dedicated, world-class caregivers.

Brown fur with golden highlights, long claws, and sharp teeth accentuate Boomer and Bailey's impressive physical statures. WILDLIFE | SPRING 2009 |


MEMBERSHIP NEWS Benefits at O t h e r Z o o s

Making Family Memories

One of the benefits that many members tell us is important

A special opportunity that members have is to receive dis-

to them is free or discounted admission at 150 other zoos.

counts on behind-the-scenes tours. Many members who have

In Texas, you can go to six zoos completely free of charge:

taken advantage of these tours report that they experience

Abilene, Brownsville, Dallas (Aquarium and Zoo), El Paso,

the Zoo very differently and become “heroes” to their families.

and Waco. Outside Texas, you can visit zoos in Miami, North Carolina, Cleveland, Portland, Tacoma, Nashville, Seattle,

Bobbi and Vic Samuels wanted to find a way to make this past

and Milwaukee free of charge. Additionally, Houston Zoo

holiday season different and special for their family. They

members get a 50% discount at the Los Angeles, San Fran-

brought their three sons, two “almost” sons, and 11 grandchil-

cisco, Albuquerque, Atlanta, and Philadelphia Zoos. New

dren to meet the sea lions and giraffes. The visit included a

zoos are added all the time, so be sure to check www.hous-

special presentation on the beach at sea lions, along with a for the latest list. Remember to

number of sea lion kisses and the opportunity to feed the gi-

take your membership card when travelling.

raffes. A huge success, Vic and Bobbi received thank you calls from



along with special art projects the kids drew about the visit. The Samuels wanted to give their families something that would inspire a lifetime of memories and bring smiles to their faces. They accomplished all of this, and it was one of the most memorable days they’d had together. Should you wish to find out more about these and other tours, simply go to

Adopt an Animal Adopt a bunny for your hunny this Easter! This year, fill your Easter baskets with a Houston Zoo animal adoption. Trixie, our Flemish giant rabbit, is ready to become an honorary member of your family. She is bigger than most housecats and many dogs, weighing in at almost 18 pounds and measuring almost two feet from her tail to the tip of her nose. Trixie loves children, going out on visits, and being walked on her harness around the Zoo. She is not your average rabbit, and adopting her would make a great gift for Easter this year. Visit our website at

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Member Mornings Our Member Mornings are a great opportunity to hear from our Zoo’s experts and gain professional insight about a select animal resident. Programs begin promptly at 9:15 a.m. and last approximately 45 minutes. Please visit for details. No registration required. You will be greeted inside the Zoo’s main entrance in Hermann Park and escorted to the exhibit area. The next few months are: Monday, March 2 and Saturday, March 7 What’s new at sea lions? Saturday, April 4 and Monday, April 6 What’s new in primates? Monday, May 4 and Saturday, May 9 What’s new in the reptile house?

Zoobilee Zoobilee, our member-only event, is being moved to the spring to enable us to take advantage of the cooler evening temperatures. Mark your calendars for Thursday, April 2, 2009 and Friday, April 3, 2009 from 5:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m. It’s a fun family celebration with numerous Meet the Keeper talks, where you can learn all about some very special animals and enjoy jugglers, a magician, and a children’s DJ. Kids are invited to embark on a Zoo-style global trek to meet some of our remarkable residents and get a special passport stamped from exotic lands. Members will receive a 20% discount on food purchased from Zoo concessions as well as a 20% discount in the Houston Zoo Gift Shop. RSVP by March 23, 2009 at



earth day S a t u r d a y , A p r i l 18


200 , 19 l i r Ap , y a Su n d


WASTE MANAGEMENT EARTH D AY Saturday, April 1 8 & S u n d a y, A p r i l 1 9 , 2 0 0 9 This April 18 and 19, join the Houston Zoo to celebrate

of inspiring awareness of and gratitude for the planet by

Waste Management Earth Day. Kids of all ages will

hosting our own Earth Day celebration.

participate in fun and educational conservation activities across Zoo grounds, including relay races and a

Learning how to conserve and recycle are more important

special appearance from Cycler, Waste Management's

than ever. It is essential for people with common goals to

kid-friendly recycling robot.

have a forum in which they can learn, share, and unite to make the Earth a greener place. That's what we strive to

Originally founded in 1969 to push environmental pro-

provide with Waste Management Earth Day celebration

tection into the national limelight, Earth Day has now

at the Houston Zoo.

grown into a worldwide annual celebration of mother Earth, our greatest provider. This year, on its 40th an-

Please visit for full de-

niversary, the Houston Zoo will continue the tradition

tails about this year's party for the planet.

18 | HOUSTON ZOO | w w w. h o u s t o n z o o . o r g

S H O W U S H O W Y O U C O N S E RVE New to the Zoo's Earth Day Party this year is a chance for you to win a Green Globe at our first annual film festival. Showcase your skills and knowledge of conservation by submitting a 60-second short film to Send us a video of your garden, carpool group, or special conservation technique. Show us just how green you are at home or the office – be as creative as you can. Winning videos will be played in a special Earth Day film viewing in the Brown Education Center and winning participants will be invited on stage to receive a special award. Can you show us how you conserve?

THE HOU S T O N Z O O I S GOING G R E E N W I T H A N E W T E A M On a recent visit to the Houston Zoo you may have noticed our lush landscaping has never looked better. But the Houston Zoo is going green in more ways than one! We are striving every day to become more eco-friendly and sustainable at the Zoo. Some of the greatest threats to wildlife and wild places across the world are the overuse of natural resources and the destructiveness of pollution. It is not an easy process for anyone to become more green, but the newly formed Houston Zoo Green Task Force is confident we can make the transformation together. This task force is comprised of representatives from different Zoo departments charged with initiating and championing eco-friendly change in their respective sections. From our animal departments and grounds staff to development and special events, we are changing the way we think about our daily activities and how they impact the planet. Visit our website at to learn more about the task force and some easy tips on what you can do to help keep our planet green. Our mission is to develop and implement proactive, fiscally responsible, and eco-friendly initiatives that will allow us to emerge as recognized leaders in the local and national conservation communities.





Resistant to pests and disease in Houston’s climate, this rose has a lovely bloom, with the look of an antique specimen.


To put it simply, 15-year-old Tony Provenzano is a Zoo educational program superstar. He is in his second year with Conservation Crew and spent his last summer as an honorary horticulturist while a member of Zoo Crew. Tony first got involved with the Zoo when he was 13 and had an interest in veterinary medicine, so he attended French Lace Med Rose Camp. “I really enjoyed camp and met a lot of new friends who recommended that I sign up for the Club Zoo Rosa 'French Lace'

Conservation Crew,” Tony said. In time, this led to Tony’s work last summer with the horticulture team, where he learned that sustaining plant life

A florist favorite, this compact formweeds of the classic and wildlife conservation are jobs that are never finished. Tony and his friends did everything from pulling around the Zoo to setting up the gardens at the McNair Asian Elephant Barn.

flower lasts up to two weeks in a vase when cut.

“Being so involved at the Zoo taught me how important nature is and how important it is to practice conservation in every part of our lives. I encourage all my friends to get involved, as much as they can, with activities at the Zoo.” So, be like Tony, and sign up today!

Star flowers behave as perennials in Houston gardens. Planting C o n guarantees s e r v a tbutterflies i o n C and r e whummingbirds ( G r a dineyour s 8yard. -12) pentas Help the habitats in and around Houston by working on projects such as marsh grass restoration, beach clean-ups, or even assisting at area animal rescue organizations.

March 7 – Buffalo Bayou Partnership April 4 – Galveston Bay Foundation May 9 – Beach clean-up For younger kids, check out Wild Wheels and Natural Beginnings I and II. Stroll around the Zoo with your toddler or let them participate in hands-on Star activities year-round. Please Flower Pentas lanceolata for full details, invisit cluding dates, times, costs, and information on how to sign up.

IT'S A POS TER! Pull out the poster and enjoy this Wildlife feature.

20 | HOUSTON ZOO | w w w. h o u s t o n z o o . o r g

Pink Powderpuff Calliandra emarginata

Dwarf Peruvian Lily Alstromeria 'Dandy Candy'

Jungle flames prefer acidic soil and full sun, which gives them a brilliant color for most of the year. Leadwort Plumbago auriculata

Scarlet Milkweed Asclepias curassavica

Jungle Flame Ixora coccinea

In Texas, scarlet milkweeds provide habitat to butterflies that may have otherwise been lost to development. Princess Flower Tibouchina urvilleana


R E D PA N D A - M O N I U M Submit photos and video of your cutest animal in the world to and get featured on our website. Get started in March by entering to win a special one-on-one tour and be the first to get to know our red panda. April is Red Panda-monium Month. Wear red to the Zoo all month, come to our tail-gates, and don't miss the grand opening of the exhibit in late March. For full details on Red Panda-monium Month and all of our red panda events, go to www.

Houston Zoo 1513 North MacGregor Houston, Texas 77030

Non-Profit Organization U.S. Postage

Visit online at

Houston, Texas Permit No. 8963


Houston Zoo Wildlife Spring 2009  

Houston Zoo member magzine, Spring 2009

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