Culture / Newsy

Houston Zoo Named One of the Best in America By National Mag With Travel Clout — Move Over San Diego

Conservation Programs Power Houston's Animal Wonderland Into the Top 9

BY // 06.25.21

Two million visitors a year can’t be wrong. While Houston Zoo, which regularly clocks in that massive attendance, didn’t really need further affirmation of its excellence, spirits are surely running high among the cheetahs, meerkats and gorillas as Travel & Leisure magazine has placed the zoo among the top nine in the country — out of more than 2,400 nationwide.

Houston Zoo’s prominence is based on conservation programs internationally and in Texas. In fact, the zoo’s motto is “See them. Save them.” Attendance was a measure, though lesser, with Houston having the second highest annual visitor count behind the San Diego Zoo, which regularly sees more than 3 million.

“The 55-acre park is home to 900 species, and with every ticket sold, visitors are able to help support over 40 wildlife conservation projects around the world,” Travel & Leisure writes about the Houston Zoo. “On top of its global work, the Houston Zoo spearheads local projects to save native Texas species from extinction, including the Houston toad and the Attwater’s prairie chicken.”

exp23 (Photo by Stephanie Adams/Houston Zoo)
The popular Gorilla Habitat is among exhibits to open after the pandemic closure on March 14. (Photo by Stephanie Adams/Houston Zoo)

Travel & Leisure‘s criteria for naming the best and most ethical zoos began with a survey of locations accredited by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums. 

Houston Zoo Joins an Elite Group

Joining the prestigious ranking are Disney’s Animal Kingdom in Lake, Florida;  San Diego Zoo; Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago; St. Louis Zoo; Smithsonian’s National Zoo in Washington, D.C.; Denver ZooHenry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium in Omaha, Nebraska; and Columbus Zoo and Aquarium in Powell, Ohio.

Houston’s 55-acre zoological park houses more than 6,000 animals from 900 species, all housed in natural environments. For many visitors, the gorilla habitat is among the most interesting, one that can be viewed 24-7 via the Gorilla Habitat Cam. Add the McNair Asian Elephant Habitat and the sexy Chilean flamingos in pink to the intriguing mix and you have a full zoo.

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