One of the biggest threats to marine animals is being entangled or trapped in garbage. The Houston Zoo houses many marine animals and is committed to doing everything we can to protect their counter parts in the wild.
Houston Zoo staff participates in keeping our upper Texas Coast clean by joining in garbage removal efforts. Every year we assist the Galveston Bay Foundation and others in the removal of abandoned wire crab traps. Crabbing is closed for almost two weeks each year in February and during that time all traps are assumed abandoned and considered litter.
Crab traps, when used responsibly, can harvest the crabs you see in markets and at restaurants. But, when forgotten about, they invite all sorts of marine wildlife to work their ways into the traps to try to get at the bait. All sorts of marine animals like turtles, or even otters, can find themselves stuck in a crap trap and unfortunately perish due to lack of air (yes, even marine turtles need air!)
This year, we recovered over 200 traps at the Crab Trap Clean up! Many people volunteered their air boats and man power to pull out as many abandoned traps as possible. Each trap is scanned for wildlife remains to document and report the devastating effects of these forgotten “ghost traps”. This year an otter skeleton was found in one of the traps and helped remind us of the importance of these removals.
How the Houston Zoo Helps save animals in wild:
- We help with weekly beach surveys to find stranded and injured sea turtles on Galveston Island and Bolivar Peninsula (~80 miles of beach)
- We provide medical attention for stranded and injured sea turtle found on the Texas coast.
- We hold some injured sea turtles at our Kipp Aquarium until they are healthy enough to be released.
The Houston Zoo is committed to protecting animals in the wild, and you can be too!
You can help save animals in the wild by reducing your use of materials that end up in beautiful areas like the oceans.
By reducing your use of plastic you can ensure that you are having a direct impact on what sea animals are ingesting and getting tangled in, and you can know you are saving animals in the wild. The more you recycle the plastic you do have to use, and the more alert you are toward what an impact you can have, then the less garbage there will be out there for our wildlife to come in contact with.
How You save animals in the wild:
- Use biodegradable garbage bags(found at most grocery stores) and pet waste bags! They break down naturally, and don’t leave harmful chemicals behind.
- Avoid using plastic! Buy a reusable water bottle and reusable canvas grocery bags instead of the plastic alternatives. By Using a canvas bag you can eliminate the use of 1,000 plastic bags!
- Visit the Houston Zoo-a portion of every ticket purchased goes towards saving animals in the wild!
Remember that wildlife may see a direct impact with garbage like plastics, but it is us who also have to deal with the consequences of the quality of our environment that we live, breath, and drink in daily!