Houston Zoo, Houston

It’s Spring Break, and we’ve come to what has to be the busiest place in the state, the Houston Zoo!  While the parking situation was a little crazy (we did shuttle parking and waited a bit for a bus), traffic to the parking wasn’t bad at all, and neither were the lines to get in the zoo.  Even with all these people here, it just doesn’t feel that crowded!  We spent the entire day, from opening to closing!  Check out my pics, Mommy Tips for visiting the zoo, and more things to do in Houston!


The Houston Zoo is open 7 days a week from 9am – 7pm, which I love, and their last entry is at 6pm.  But you’ll need much more than an hour to see everything!  The 55 acre park is the home to over 6,000 animals, many you won’t see any where else in Texas, like the Red Panda and the Madagascan Foosa!


Located in Hermann Park, the Houston Zoo is unique in that they don’t have their own dedicated parking lot.  If you’re an early bird, you can sometimes snag FREE parking in the park, or park at one of the shuttle lots, open holidays and weekends.  Parking is $6 at a lot, and the shuttle ride is FREE.

My favorite way to visit the zoo is by the Metrorail!  You’ll even save a couple of bucks off an adult admission ($1 off a child’s admission) when you show your ticket at the zoo admissions booth!  It’s a short walk to the Medical Center entrance.


For this visit, we parked at the Medical Center and rode the FREE shuttle over to the zoo.


As zoo members, we received free admission, but you can also get 50% off your Reciprocated Admission if you are a member of another AZA accredited zoo!

The Houston Zoo will offer all members of the U.S. military, their families and veterans 50% off regular admission tickets with valid military ID. Guests with a U.S. military ID can purchase up to two (2) adult and three (3) children’s tickets per day.

From September through May, you can get FREE admission to the zoo the First Tuesday of the month, from noon until closing!


houston zoo splash pad
Image courtesy of Houston Zoo


The Houston Zoo Splash Pad is open April 1 – mid October, and is FREE with your regular Zoo admission!

Bring a change of clothes and swim diapers for babies and toddlers.

The zoo doesn’t have lockers and doesn’t have a place where you can store you change of clothes, towels, etc. while you are in the zoo.


The Main Entrance to the zoo hasn’t changed since I was a little girl!  It’s still my very favorite!

There are a LOT of animals at the Houston Zoo, and obviously I can’t get a picture of all of them.  My advice for visiting any zoo, museum, etc. is always QUALITY OVER QUANTITY!  If you spend all day only seeing a few animals, but spend the time to really see their personalities and learn a little about them, it’s much better than a day spent rushing around to see everything!

When my daughter was a toddler, she loved the hippos, and we would visit the Fort Worth Zoo one day a week.  We’d walk in and straight to the hippos, where she spent 2 hours just watching them and laughing!  It was usually nap time when we left, and sometimes we never saw anything else, but it was SO worth it!


The question I’m most often asked is are the Sea Lions still at the zoo, and I’m always thrilled to answer YES!!!!

In fact, they just had a baby born in August, 2017!

Be sure and check your schedule for the Sea Lion Show, and plan to slow down and watch these cute animals, native to the U.S. West Coast!

The Sea Lion encounter is a chance to work with the trainers, and a behind the scenes tour!  Click HERE for more information!

Click HERE to read more about baby Max!


In anticipation of the zoo’s 100th anniversary in 2022, the zoo is doing a lot of reimagining!  A huge area is being remade as the Texas Wetlands, and I’m so excited to see it!  The anticipated opening is Summer, 2019!


African Forest

The African Forest exhibit is one of the largest at the zoo, and includes an African Village.  The buildings are all constructed in the French Colonial Style, and seem more at home in New Orleans than the African Forest, but in South Africa you can see many buildings that still have their French and Dutch colonial influence.  Click HERE for a fun article about colonial architecture in Africa from more information!


For $7 you can FEED a Masai Giraffe!


Fun shopping at the Village Trading Post in the middle of the African Forest.  There is also a café which overlooks the giraffe exhibit!


The Zoo’s Southern White Rhino exhibit.  I really enjoyed watching the rhinos!

The Houston Zoo offers Rhino Encounters.  Click HERE to read more!

Click HERE to read more about the Houston Zoo’s Conservation of the Rhinos.


This summer, my daughter will be traveling to Kenya on an educational/conservation trip to visit the LEWA Wildlife Conservancy in Kenya, thanks to her volunteer work with the Dallas Zoo.  While there, she’ll help with the animals, take tours and work with the children in the village, even helping to build a water system.  Click HERE this incredible African Preserve, and their work with baby rhinos orphaned by poachers!


The African Forest is also home to the Great Apes exhibit.

Be sure to check your schedule for the Keeper Talks!

For an additional fee, the Great Ape Gallery has a Behind the Scenes Tour!  Click HERE for more information.


Inside the Great Ape Gallery, in addition to climate controlled viewing windows to see the Gorillas, and they had several interactive exhibits. This one had small pieces of metal, meant to represent the rare mineral tantalulm, which is used for cell-phones and tablets.  Kids mine in the sand for the metal, upsetting the trees and gorillas that live there, a very real representation of what is happening today in parts of Africa.  Recycling your cell phone and tablet is key!  Please click HERE to read more!


The kids had fun playing in the small huts, and made a few friends, too!


Giant Tortoises!  The little guy is a Radiated Tortoise, which is critically endangered in the wild.


The Big Cats Exhibit is BIG!  There’s nothing as amazing as listening to this guy when he roars, it’s heard all over the zoo!

Hasani is a 3-year-old male African lion, who just came to the zoo in December, and this was our first time to see him!  Hasani replaced the very beloved 18 year-old Johnathan, who was very beloved!

The Houston Zoo has the BEST You Tube Video, and my youngest and I watch it all the time!  Click HERE to see one of favorite videos of Johnathan with a Texas-sized popsicle!


I’m my hardest critic on my pictures, but when I take pictures for these post, I’m more concerned with giving you readers the best view of what it’s like to visit a location, not just a cute zoom in of an animal, even though I try to get a few of those, too!


And here he is, the Foosa!  Remember the Foosa from the cartoon Madagascar?  They are only found in Madagascar, and the island’s largest carnivore.  Although they look cat-like, and are found in the Big Cat Section of the zoo, they are more closely related to the mongoose.


I’m pretty sure this is just our big Chocolate Labrador, Lucky.


The Okapi or Forest Giraffe.  There are tables outside the exhibit, and this is a great place to take a break, get a drink and just watch the animals!

If your children love books about animals, check out The Sloppy Okapi!  Click HERE to visit his facebook page and find out how you can get the book!


McNair Asian Elephant Habitat

The Houston Zoo has a herd of Asian Elephants, and even a little baby!  This is another one of those opportunities to just sit and watch the animals, and try to understand them a little better!

Click HERE to read about Baby Joy!


As we were sitting and watching the elephants, I noticed that most people just passed right by this really cool exhibit on bees, and that the farmers are placing hives along their fences to their crops, to keep the elephants out!

Next to the elephants is the Natural Encounters Building, which host some amazing animals, and many are off exhibit and can only be seen during the Keeper Talks!

There is also a Nature Playscape for the kids to run around and play, and plenty of shade!


The Children’s Zoo

There are great exhibits in the Children’s Zoo, including places to run and play, explore and much, much more!


We all love the little viewing stations inside the mongoose habitat!


Meet Fiesta the Llama!  Most people don’t realize how funny they can be, but Llamas are packed with personality!

One of our favorite video’s from the Houston Zoo You Tube channel features Fiesta and a Leaf Blower.  Click HERE to watch it!


The Children’s Zoo also has a fun little petting zoo with some cute little goats.  Their hours are a little different from the zoo hours, so check before you go!

Know Before You Go

Outside food and drinks are allowed!  Pack a picnic or bring a cooler.  Be warned, there isn’t a place to store your cooler, so you’ll have to haul it around with you.

I believe the more you know, the more you enjoy your visit!  Download the Houston Zoo app on your phone with a map, daily schedule and much more!


Across the street from the Houston Zoo is the Log House Museum, and the kids had fun as we walked around!  Click HERE to read more about it.

Hermann Park also has a fun miniature train and more things to do!  Click HERE to visit their website.

Things To Do in Houston


The Beer Can House is a really unique and quirky thing to see in Houston, located just West of Downtown!  Click HERE to read more.

Watch the bats as they leave their roost under the Waugh Drive Bridge every evening at dusk!  Click HERE to read more.

The Houston Arboretum in Memorial Park offers beautiful hiking inside the 6-10 Loop!  Click HERE  to read more.


Cedar Creek Bar and Grill offers great burgers in a big, casual outdoor seating!  Click HERE for more information.


The Magnolia Hotel in Downtown Houston is one of our favorites, with most Downtown attractions within walking distance. Click HERE to read more.

Houston Zoo

6200 Hermann Park Drive, Houston

Click HERE to visit their website.

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Having Fun in the TEXAS Sun is on PINTEREST! Use it as a quick resource to find activities in different Texas towns! Click HERE!

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