The world-class Houston Zoo introduces over 2.3 million guests a year to animal ambassadors, educates its visitors about conservation, and suggests actions that the public can take in their everyday lives to protect nature. The Houston Zoo is focused on conserving the wild counterparts of the animals living in the zoo, from painted dogs to sharks and elephants.
For many years, the Houston Zoo has provided invaluable support to several WCN conservationists. Since 2010, the Houston Zoo has worked closely with WCN Partner Painted Dog Conservation (PDC). Their Veterinary Hospital and Animal Nutrition Manager, Lisa Marie Avendano, traveled to Zimbabwe to assist PDC in setting up a laboratory at their new facility. Lisa worked with PDC to track African wild dogs with radio collars and collect samples to be analyzed in the lab. PDC and the Houston Zoo are even working together to develop new collars that help painted dogs trapped in snares to break the wires and escape unharmed, saving their lives.
Houston Zoo also turns to the sea to help with marine conservation efforts. WCN affiliate MarAlliance works in Central America to protect sharks and rays through conservation, research, and education. Dr. Rachel Graham, the head of MarAlliance, spoke at the Wildlife Conservation Expo in 2013. Last year, the Houston Zoo ran a workshop in Belize for MarAlliance and eight other marine conservation organizations from Honduras, Belize, Guatemala, and Mexico. The workshop consisted of two days collecting footage underwater and two days creating and editing short, quality conservation videos – training that Dr. Graham described as invaluable. In addition to gaining beneficial video messaging insight, the workshop provided an opportunity for the nine conservation organizations to collaborate, share their stories, and build networks to strengthen future marine conservation efforts.
WCN Partner Save the Elephants (STE) also has a strong partnership with the Houston Zoo, which has raised over $250,000 for elephant conservation over the last two years. This year, the Houston Zoo welcomed a new intern named Sabinga, who has worked with STE in Kenya for the past eight years. His internship with the Houston Zoo is a testament to how intimately joined the Zoo and STE are. The skills and knowledge Sabinga gained at the Houston Zoo have translated to his work back in Kenya, adding richness to STE’s programs. Both Houston Zoo and STE know the importance of engaging community members and providing them with opportunities to become an integral part of wildlife conservation.
The Houston Zoo also provides assistance to WCN Partners such as Saiga Conservation Alliance, Grevy’s Zebra Trust, Ewaso Lions and Niassa Lion Project. WCN and our Partners are extremely grateful for the work Houston Zoo does to support conservation and to inspire the public to take action to protect endangered species worldwide.
—Article by Juliet Norvig