Two members of the Houston Zoo team, Tarah Jacobs and Kevin Hodge, are currently in China. Tarah and Kevin are working with Chinese Zoos and blogging about their experience abroad.

This post was written by Kevin Hodge.

We traveled over 7,000 miles and 22 hours to get to Hangzhou and Chengdu, China to perform workshops with Chinese keepers on training, exhibit design and enrichment.  We started the workshop at Hangzhou Zoo with 24 delegates from 4 different Zoos from around the area.  The first day of class we started with visiting several of their exhibits including chimpanzee, mandrill, red fox, and leopard.  The keeper at each area gave a presentation on what they are doing with training, enrichment and what problems they are facing.  At each of these visits we tasked the students with writing 3 positive things about each exhibit and 3 things that could be improved. Then we went back to the classroom to discuss and to come up with possible solutions.  We also did a presentation today on the Houston Zoo’s training, enrichment and exhibit design including showing them videos of our new gorilla exhibit, which they were all very impressed with,teaching and proved helpful since they are in the designing stages of their new chimpanzee exhibit.  The keepers and managers from Hangzhou have been extremely hospitable and we have never eaten so much amazing food in our lives.  We feel this workshop will not only be beneficial for the keepers in China but we will also discover a lot of new ideas to bring back to Houston.


foodIn addition to the work at the Zoo, we have been able to experience Chinese culture. We have been well fed! Dinner is “family style” here and we have gotten a lot of practice using chopsticks. We have also had the pleasure of learning about the tea culture of the Hangzhou area. We even tried the art of Chinese calligraphy.   The people and culture of China have been great and we looked forward to more adventures in China as we continue teaching this workshop over the next few weeks.

One Response to “Ni Hao from China: Houston Zoo Interacting with Animals Around the World”

  1. Anne Dietz says:

    Dear Kevin and Tarah,
    Hope you continue to enjoy your trip to China. 4 of us from Austin, just got back from a four week trip and loved the people, food, culture and one of our favorite spots, the Panda Preserve. The effort to support the pandas, keep them in surroundings that are not only healthy for them but stimulating as well was amazing for us. Since we’ve been back, we’ve missed the family lunches and dinners and even the chopsticks!

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