The Houston Zoo has a mission to foster knowledge and appreciation of the natural world. The zoo accomplishes its mission by providing a small city of different ecosystems. The Houston Zoo has a healthy record of caring for its animals and its record as a high-quality zoo has earned it accreditation by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. The Association of Zoos and Aquariums is a non-profit organization that offers credits to zoos that achieve high standards for animal care and wildlife conservation. In January of 1989, the Houston Zoo first opened up to the public.
The Houston Zoo raises its revenue from the 1.6 million visitors who come year round to learn about the animals and provide themselves or their children with an enlightening experience. There is a general admission fee of $10.00 for those ages 12-64. Those under or over the age range of 12-64 pay only $6.00. Many national holidays offer free admission and military members or those who qualify for public food assistance from the state are also waived admission fees at the gate. The Houston Zoo also raises money through a program called "Feed the Animals." The program gives a chance for volunteers to make a donation of at least $25 that goes toward the feeding of one of some of the 4,500 animals that are in the care of the zoo.
There are ten attractions at the zoo that are nestled on over 55 acres of land. The attractions are the Elephant Exhibit, Natural Encounters Exhibit, World of Primates, Kipp Aquarium, Wildlife Carousel, Mammals, Birds, Reptile House, Water Park, and the McGovern Children's Zoo. The most recent exhibit is the African Wild Dogs Exhibit. There are exactly three African Dogs in the exhibit. Their names are Blaze, Aries, and Mikita and they live among trees, sod, and two dens. The Houston Zoo has a commitment to conserving endangered species and displays that commitment by bringing the three African Wild Dogs to the zoo for protection and population recovery. The conservation of animals is also apparent by the lectures the zoo offers to customers who want to hear important information about global conservation and environmental concerns that are affecting both animals and people. The lecture series offered by the zoo deals with issues that affect us all and is an effort aimed to educate the general public.
The Houston Zoo has even managed to jump onto the digital bandwagon and has entered the world of podcasting. The podcast provided by the Houston Zoo is fun and informative and covers topics such as zoo events and educational information about animals like the warthog and sea lion. The podcast is released on a weekly basis.
A special attraction that the Houston Zoo offers is called "Animal Experiences." For a certain fee, attendees that meet the age requirements can see what the Zoo veterinarian does each day, squirt milk into a lion's mouth, or even take a twilight walk which gives visitors an opportunity to take a nighttime tour so they can see how the zoo animals behave at night.