Stories in the ‘Zoo History: Looking Back’ Category

Remembering M’kubwa

Posted by in African Forest,Featured Creatures,Primates,Zoo History: Looking Back


After a 10 year absence, the Houston Zoo will be getting gorillas once again, in 2015. Just 10 years ago, though, a beloved resident of the Zoo, our last gorilla, passed away. His name was M’kubwa, affectionately known as Mac. And at the time, he was the only Grauer’s gorilla (or Eastern Lowland gorilla) in […]

There’s a hippo on a what?

Posted by in Zoo History: Looking Back

Over the Houston Zoo’s 90 years, we’ve answered many calls for assistance from law enforcement agencies and animal care agencies.  The Zoo answers the call from our area sheriffs’ departments (Harris, Montgomery, Brazoria) for  exotic animal emergencies. We also have a long history of assisting the Houston SPCA with exotic animal cases providing expert evaluations of animals’ conditions […]

Werler’s World

Posted by in Zoo History: Looking Back

A Houston Chronicle op-ed on Sunday, February 10 included a bit of previously unknown history about the Houston Zoo and the late Zoo Director John Werler. Janice Van Dyke Walden’s op-ed (Camp Strake property deserves to remain a natural oasis amid suburban growth) included the notation that “the first Canebrake rattlesnake to be registered in […]

Sisters of the Skillet and other diversions

Posted by in Zoo History: Looking Back

The Houston Zoo was a popular destination for Houstonians almost from the day it opened in 1922.  As word of head zoo keeper Hans Nagel’s ‘showmanship’ began to spread, attendance steadily climbed.  His Sunday afternoon big cat training demonstrations in The Arena drew large crowds through the ’20s and into the ‘Great Depression’ days of the […]

Ride ‘em Hans!

Posted by in Zoo History: Looking Back

The maintenance and expansion of the Houston Zoo in the early 1920s has been characterized by one former Zoo facilities director as requiring an effort equivalent to the 12 tasks of Hercules.  Fred Maier wasn’t exaggerating when he wrote those words for a Houston Chronicle feature article on the occasion of the Houston Zoo’s 75th […]

It wasn’t always a Rice owl

Posted by in Zoo History: Looking Back

As we’ve noted in previous posts and mentioned in last year’s special historical issue of the Houston Zoo’s member magazine Wildlife, the Zoo’s first director, Hans Nagel was a bit of a showman.  And that’s a colossal understatement. We recently had the good fortune to meet Lee Pecht, University Archivist and Director of Special Collections at the […]

Zoo Tube

Posted by in Zoo History: Looking Back

Zoo Tube

If you were near a TV on November 23, 2012 you may have seen what an incredible job KPRC-TV did with their one-hour live special broadcast from TXU Presents Zoo Lights at the Houston Zoo.  The special, from 7 to 8 p.m. not only covered all aspects of Zoo Lights, its creation and production, but the Zoo’s animal care and […]

Let’s Talk Food!

Posted by in Zoo History: Looking Back

We’re all about food around the holidays.  So, I thought we’d take a look at what Houstonians were eating in in the 1920s when the Houston Zoo first opened in Hermann Park and in the years that followed. From what we know right now, there probably wasn’t much for food and beverage concessions at the […]

Zoo Food – Then and Now

Posted by in Supporting Your Zoo,Zoo History: Looking Back

Frequent readers of Houston Zoo blogs are familiar with the Zoo’s annual Gift of Grub campaign.  Generously supported by TXU Energy, the campaign each year raises funds to support the Zoo’s animal nutrition.  You can find out more about this year’s Gift of Grub campaign, TXU Energy’s $50,000 dollar-for-dollar match, and what it takes to […]

Cold Weather – Then and Now

Posted by in Zoo History: Looking Back

Houston winters rarely approach the category of water-pipe-busting hard freezes.  Yes, it’s happened but thankfully not that often. Still, when you’re caring for 6,000 exotic animals, some of whom find 50 degrees uncomfortable, winter preparations are essential. The Houston Zoo begins winter weather preparations early. Tropical birds are particularly sensitive to cold weather so some bird habitats are […]

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