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Surprise find of the day, the shortest tower crane ever. It's being used to build the Galapagos Island. Damn train got in my pic  so I had to take another. https://www.houstonzoo.org/blog/la

The Galapagos turtle exhibit his expensive.  

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Has anyone else ever wondered why Houston has a very sub-par zoo despite being in the 4th largest city and admission fees that have climbed steeply in the past decade? I didn't realize how crappy our zoo is until I visited the Brownsville zoo a year ago... smaller city, smaller budget, lower admission fees with beautiful wide-open animal exhibits that mimic natural environments. They also had a much more interesting selection of animals, I especially liked their troop of gorillas (we haven't had a gorilla in 10 years or something).

Nice pictures though westguy.

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Has anyone else ever wondered why Houston has a very sub-par zoo despite being in the 4th largest city and admission fees that have climbed steeply in the past decade? I didn't realize how crappy our zoo is until I visited the Brownsville zoo a year ago... smaller city, smaller budget, lower admission fees with beautiful wide-open animal exhibits that mimic natural environments. They also had a much more interesting selection of animals, I especially liked their troop of gorillas (we haven't had a gorilla in 10 years or something).

It's kind of hard to recreate what Brownsville has when you're landlocked.

I have no clue why we have no Gorillas.

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Houston's zoo has actually improved a lot since they started charging admission. I'll agree with you that it's not as nice as Brownsville's, or some of the other zoos in major cities, but it has improved greatly from what it was and continues to get better. Part of the problem was that for many years the zoo was not only free, but it was also not receiving adequate financial support from the city. The relatively small amount of land the zoo has to work with also hasn't helped.

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Houston's zoo has actually improved a lot since they started charging admission. I'll agree with you that it's not as nice as Brownsville's, or some of the other zoos in major cities, but it has improved greatly from what it was and continues to get better. Part of the problem was that for many years the zoo was not only free, but it was also not receiving adequate financial support from the city. The relatively small amount of land the zoo has to work with also hasn't helped.

The zoo in Omaha Nebraska is far better than the Houston zoo, in a much smaller market. Almost all of the funding for major updates/rennovations was from private sources. The city shouldn't be to blame, the zoo should be able to raise its own funding.

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I think our gorilla died a few years ago. I remember watching that dude puke up his food, eat it, repeat. :wacko:

Our gorilla enclosure was an acoustic nightmare. They had to find a deaf gorilla to live in it.

If you think our zoo sucks, you should have seen it 30 years ago. There used to be a filthy, depressing block of monkey jail cells in the center of it.

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Our gorilla enclosure was an acoustic nightmare. They had to find a deaf gorilla to live in it.

If you think our zoo sucks, you should have seen it 30 years ago. There used to be a filthy, depressing block of monkey jail cells in the center of it.

I remember the dark gorilla house, kind of scared me as a wee little one, and the monkey/ape cages in the middle, seems we had more chimps and baboons then.

I do appreciate our Zoo though, probably should have not been free for so long, I love the park setting and the ponds, plants ,trees, and great volunteers. While my son is not old enough to appreciate it, We strolled through the expansive new (since I have been there last) children's area and petting zoo and that looks great.

Ssullivan has a good point too about the size the zoo is allotted, there is only so much they could do with the area, and since they have started charging they have been doing more improvements in recent years.

Lastly, for the money, in my opinion, it is a great inexpensive way to spend a day outdoors with the family.

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a friend of mine is a mgr there. she sent me this.

When M'kubwa (Mak) our old gorilla died, it was decided that we would not get more until we had the best facility possible. When our new African exhibit is complete (year 200?) we will get troops of both gorillas and chimpanzees. We will then have 3 of the great apes at the Houston Zoo

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I got a behind-the-scenes tour of the zoo once. It's really an impressive operation. The animals were less impressed with me, though. An orangutang peed in his plastic cup, slurped it into his mouth and tried to spit it on me (he missed!)

Later one of the keepers suggested I try feeding pieces of yam to the giraffe by putting them in my mouth. The giraffe's two-foot-long blue tongue snaked down my throat. Ick! I think we're married now.

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The giraffe's two-foot-long blue tongue snaked down my throat. Ick! I think we're married now.

"Ick" is not exactly the word I'd choose. Ewwwwwwwwwwwwwww. I'm going to have permanent, lifelong issues now whenever a tongue gets near me.

Thanks, though, for waking me up. I was nodding off in a conference call before that post.

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I got a behind-the-scenes tour of the zoo once. It's really an impressive operation. The animals were less impressed with me, though. An orangutang peed in his plastic cup, slurped it into his mouth and tried to spit it on me (he missed!)

Later one of the keepers suggested I try feeding pieces of yam to the giraffe by putting them in my mouth. The giraffe's two-foot-long blue tongue snaked down my throat. Ick! I think we're married now.

I'm sure Darcie appreciates that! ;) Her neck didn't look that long too me.......

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The zoo in Omaha Nebraska is far better than the Houston zoo, in a much smaller market. Almost all of the funding for major updates/rennovations was from private sources. The city shouldn't be to blame, the zoo should be able to raise its own funding.

As long as the city whores the zoo out for it's P.R. tourism machine, then yes, they are to blame.

My daughter doesn't think our zoo is crappy. She loves it. That's good enough for me.

Zoo memberships here are a great deal if you have a family.

I agree. My daughter loves it and we have a family membership as well.

Edited by Jeebus
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The zoo in Omaha Nebraska is far better than the Houston zoo, in a much smaller market. Almost all of the funding for major updates/rennovations was from private sources. The city shouldn't be to blame, the zoo should be able to raise its own funding.

If you read my post again, you'll see that my comment about the city inadequately funding the zoo was more an issue before the zoo started charging admission -- at a time when it was largely dependent on the city for financial support. Since the changes in how the zoo was managed were put in place, which included charging admission, very large renovation projects have been undertaken. There's a lot more corporate sponsorship of the major projects at the zoo than there was in the past. Improvements take time. But if you look at the areas that have been improved -- things such as the primates exhibit, children's petting zoo, and even the big cats exhibit (one of the older renovations at this point), the improvements are quite evident. A large portion of the zoo has been closed off for several years now for the development of the new African exhibit, which will greatly improve the quality of the zoo's habitats for many animals. But projects like these don't happen overnight. It takes years of planning and fundraising before construction can even start; then it may take several years to build the new habitat areas.

Admission fees at the zoo are quite reasonable -- and there are numerous free admission days every year. And as previously mentioned, the family memberships are a great bargain for families that visit several times a year.

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You don't have to be faster than the tiger, just faster than the guy next to you.

Maybe, but I found it interesting in the SF Zoo mauling that the Tiger reportedly passed up other visitors to chase the two original perps.

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Maybe, but I found it interesting in the SF Zoo mauling that the Tiger reportedly passed up other visitors to chase the two original perps. (Twerps)

I knew there was more to the story when it 1st broke. Last I heard & read was the guys that jacked with these animals were loaded on booze and whatever, they were pretty much asking for it.

Perhaps they tried to catch the tiger by the tail?

They're grrrrrrreat!!!!! :lol:

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  • 2 weeks later...

Went to the zoo briefly on Sunday morning (the membership is good for quick visits when you're in the area and have some time to kill).

One thing I believe our zoo needs is more parking. The zoo lot was completely full by 11 am on Sunday (and parking along Golf Course Drive was full as well), but once you got inside, the zoo didn't feel crowded at all (no line to get in, no line at concessions, no crowds at popular exhibits). The zoo holds a lot more folks than the parking lot can handle.

On a day where we'd have more time, I'd contemplate parking elsewhere and taking the train. Is there a good free place to park along the Red Line on weekends?

EDIT: because I can't spell

Edited by CDeb
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One thing I believe our zoo needs is more parking. The zoo lot was completely full by 11 am on Sunday

On a day where we'd have more time, I'd contemplate parking elsewhere and taking the train. Is there a good free place to park along the Red Line on weekends?

Sunday afternoon i skated along macgregor by the rear entrance, it seems people are parking in the med center garage and walking across the street to enter the zoo at the rear entrance. the number of people doing this surprised me because there was such a steady stream.

Edited by musicman
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Went to the zoo briefly on Sunday morning (the membership is good for quick visits when you're in the area and have some time to kill).

One thing I believe our zoo needs is more parking. The zoo lot was completely full by 11 am on Sunday (and parking along Golf Course Drive was full as well), but once you got inside, the zoo didn't feel crowded at all (no line to get in, no line at concessions, no crowds at popular exhibits). The zoo holds a lot more folks than the parking lot can handle.

There was some sort of festival going on on Saturday (maybe Sunday, too) that put extra cars in the zoo lot. Hermann Park needs more parking.

I have memberships at the Museum of Natural Science, Health Museum and Children's Museum, so I get a discount on nearby parking. A big underground lot would be a good idea, especially if it was next to a stop on the new park train.

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There was some sort of festival going on on Saturday (maybe Sunday, too) that put extra cars in the zoo lot. Hermann Park needs more parking.

I have memberships at the Museum of Natural Science, Health Museum and Children's Museum, so I get a discount on nearby parking. A big underground lot would be a good idea, especially if it was next to a stop on the new park train.

I agree. On a reasonably nice day, you have to arrive pretty early to park. And those traffic cops do not help things at all, IMHO they make it worse.

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Went to the zoo briefly on Sunday morning (the membership is good for quick visits when you're in the area and have some time to kill).

One thing I believe our zoo needs is more parking. The zoo lot was completely full by 11 am on Sunday (and parking along Golf Course Drive was full as well), but once you got inside, the zoo didn't feel crowded at all (no line to get in, no line at concessions, no crowds at popular exhibits). The zoo holds a lot more folks than the parking lot can handle.

On a day where we'd have more time, I'd contemplate parking elsewhere and taking the train. Is there a good free place to park along the Red Line on weekends?

EDIT: because I can't spell

The Fannin South lot is only $2.50 on week days. I'm not sure about weekends.

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<zips mouth and waits for someone else to say it>

Okay, okay... I'll bite...

We live pretty close. We COULD ride bikes. In fact I keep meaning to get our bikes outfitted with baby seats for that very purpose. I gotta say though, after the bike ride, and dragging the kids through the zoo, and riding home, especially if it's hot, I'm going to have to call you to take care of the kids all afternoon while I take a nap.

We COULD also ride the train. But we'd actually have to drive further to get to the Fannin South lot than we drive to get to the zoo. Add in the cost of parking, and the train tickets, and the time, and it gets kind of stupid.

Add a couple of toddlers to any equation and driving often makes more sense. But don't get me wrong, I heart the train and we do use it whenever feasible.

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Are there any insiders here who have some information on this African Forest project that they can share? I had seen mentions of it but hadn't given it a lot of thought. Then I went to the zoo this weekend, saw the site on the map and was impressed with the size of it. On the map it says that it's opening in 2009. On Wikipedia it's fall of '08.

What exactly is the African Forest, since it covers such a large area? I'm really curious about it now.

Does anyone know why the fountain at Sarofim Court is still not finished? Or is it? It didn't have water in it, same as over two years ago. That's the last time I was there before this recent visit.

I love our zoo. I don't visit other zoos, so I can't compare. Almost went to the San Deigo Zoo once, but ended up not going. But this is the zoo I grew up visiting. And I just love the whole area surrounding the zoo. It's one of my favorite parts of Houston. It's beautiful.

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The Fort Worth Zoo is geneally recognized as the best in Texas (as well as many nearby states),

It's quality really diminishes zoos in neighboring cities (especially Dallas but also Houston, San Antonio, Oklahoma, etc.)

It makes me question the need to captivate wild animals, if not in a top quality setting.

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  • 3 months later...

Despite record crowds, officials with the Houston Zoo are looking for ways to attract more low-income families.

Starting Aug. 1, families that use the Lone Star card to receive food stamps and other benefits will have unlimited free admission for themselves and up to eight others.

"We're always trying to expand access," said Deborah Cannon, president and CEO of the Houston Zoo, which set an attendance record with 1.6 million visitors in 2007.

On July 1, ticket prices increased by 25 cents for senior citizens and by $1 for children over 2. Adult admission remains at $10.

full article

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my favorite :wacko: quote from the article:

To make matters worse, animals were getting sick after the summer free days because too many people were throwing cotton candy and other items into their pens, zoo officials said.

Well, the zoo officials might consider putting up lots of big, simply worded "don't feed the animals - here's why" signs in English, Spanish, Vietnamese, etc, throughout the zoo.

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ive always liked the houston zoo

when it was hot and steamy i didnt complain

when it was moist and raining i didnt complain

eh, maybe i just like animals enough not to care about the weather

back to topic:

im not sure about the columbus day freebie

i doubt most people even know when is it..

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Well, the zoo officials might consider putting up lots of big, simply worded "don't feed the animals - here's why" signs in English, Spanish, Vietnamese, etc, throughout the zoo.

Maybe those who have so much food that they can afford to throw it at animals should have their Lone Star cards revoked.

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  • 2 weeks later...
Maybe those who have so much food that they can afford to throw it at animals should have their Lone Star cards revoked.

Hey dbig, try to keep up -- the free admission to Lone Star Card-holders is a NEW program starting up in August. The "summer free days" with the food-throwing issue were days when the park was free to EVERYONE.

According to the article, zip code info combined with census data allowed them to estimate that "less than 9 percent of free-day visitors were from low-income areas".

At least try to get your facts straight before deriding the poor.

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Hey dbig, try to keep up -- the free admission to Lone Star Card-holders is a NEW program starting up in August. The "summer free days" with the food-throwing issue were days when the park was free to EVERYONE.

According to the article, zip code info combined with census data allowed them to estimate that "less than 9 percent of free-day visitors were from low-income areas".

At least try to get your facts straight before deriding the poor.

:lol:

You'll have to forgive bigtex, Joke. He's normally one of our more compassionate posters, so he is somewhat inexperienced in the art of blaming the poor, as evidenced by your major league smackdown of his post.

Hang in there, Tex! Maybe some of our "libertarian" posters will help guide you through the minefield of effective welfare trash talk. ;)

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Yeah, after I finished my post I re-read his and noticed his sig. His sig quote seems to be quite inconsistent with (my reading of) his post.

It made me wonder if I'd completely misread his intent, but at that point I'd already replied.

[in fact, I'm now hoping dbig will come back and clarify that I somehow misunderstood; I'd happily edit my comment if that's the case. Yes, I'm a card-carrying starry-eyed optimist.

I'm also glad I decided against including a line about how a different vowel would seem much more appropriate in "dbig".]

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  • 7 months later...

Wow, is all i can say! It is a MAJOR pain in the butt to get to it during the weekends! Not just traffic/construction but the lot fills up and they close it. In the past 4 years i have been turned away atleast 6 times. I know they say take the rail but everytime i do the lot is managable and open!

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Wow, is all i can say! It is a MAJOR pain in the butt to get to it during the weekends!
it's been this way for a while......that's one reason they moved the golf course parking over to almeda because the zoo patrons were parking in that lot.
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it's been this way for a while......that's one reason they moved the golf course parking over to almeda because the zoo patrons were parking in that lot.

I found a solution...Since i'm off fridays...I bought a membership and visit fridays :) Only hot soccer moms and very few dads with there kids.

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You ought to try and park at the Ben Taub Garage across the street on Taub Loop, but some people have the same idea.

It's easier to find parking off of Holman/Travis or Holman/San Jacinto's side streets and then use the HCC/Ensemble rail station.

I attend HCC and work at the Taub...it's not too bad.

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The mini train in Hermann Park now picks people up near the Hermann park Metro Rail station and drops them off at the Zoo. Parking in the medical center or on the street somewhere for free and taking the Metro Rail in might work.

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The mini train in Hermann Park now picks people up near the Hermann park Metro Rail station and drops them off at the Zoo. Parking in the medical center or on the street somewhere for free and taking the Metro Rail in might work.

Seriously?

YOU ARE IN A BEAUTIFUL PARK. WALK!!!

I know, I know, the kiddies want to ride the train and mom and dad don't have to carry their traveling circus junk. I am just always amazed at how people in this city avoid walking at every turn.

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Haha yeah well that's what I would do, especially with the awesome weather we've been having (Sunday was amazing) but I've learned to assume that not everybody in Houston is into walking as much as I am, and at least there's another option.

But I agree, walking from the Metro Rail stop is the best way to get there.

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The mini train in Hermann Park now picks people up near the Hermann park Metro Rail station and drops them off at the Zoo. Parking in the medical center or on the street somewhere for free and taking the Metro Rail in might work.

Wow, we now have another rail line with a connecting station!!

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