Kids Appreciation Day

Go on an adventure with your child around the Zoo at the 13th Annual Kids Appreciation Day presented by H-E-B and News Center 23. Kids Appreciation Day coincides with National KidsDay, which is a day set aside each year to celebrate and honor America’s children by spending meaningful time with them.

Every child receives a special passport which takes them on a scavenger hunt around the Zoo where they will visit themed activity stations focusing on health and wellness, safety, animal conservation and enrichment.  Once their passport is fully stamped, they will be eligible to enter a drawing for back-to-school prizes.

In honor of Kids Appreciation Day, the Zoo will also giveaway goodie bags to the first 1,000 children that complete their passports!  The goodie bags will be stuffed with H-E-B Buddy School supplies, such as a box of crayons, safety scissors, glue stick and pencil sharpener, courtesy of H-E-B.

Event is free with regular paid admission or Zoo membership.  Admit one child free with paid adult coupons are available for pick-up at News Center 23 in Brownsville and McAllen, H-E-B Stores in Brownsville and select Metro PCS stores valleywide.



12:00 p.m. – Passport Office Opens

12:30 p.m. – Book Reading: The Umbrella, by Jan Brett

1:00 p.m. – Zoo Keeper Chat & Enrichment: Herpetarium

1:00 p.m. – Book Reading: If I Ran the Rainforest, by Bonnie Worth

1:30 p.m. – Animal Presentation by Students Teaching Students

2:00 p.m. – Zoo Keeper Chat & Enrichment: Orangutans

2:00 p.m. – Animal Presentation by Students Teaching Students

2:30 p.m. – Book Reading: The Great Kapok Tree, by Lynne Cherry

3:00 p.m. – Zoo Keeper Chat & Enrichment: Macaws

3:30 p.m. – Book Reading: Rainforest, by Helen Cowcher

4:00 p.m. – Door Prize Raffle



 The Umbrella, by Jan Brett

A walk through the Costa Rican cloud forest provides a wonderfully lush setting for Jan Brett’s beloved animal illustrations. When Carlos drops his umbrella to climb a tree for a better view of the animals, they all cram into the banana-leaf umbrella as it floats by — from the little tree frog to the baby tapir to the big jaguar and more. It gets so crowded in the umbrella that there isn’t even enough room for a little hummingbird! So over the umbrella tumbles, everyone falls out, and poor Carlos comes back wondering why he didn’t see any animals all day.

If I Ran the Rainforest, by Bonnie Worth

The Cat in the Hat takes Sally and Dick for an “umbrella-vator” ride through the understory, canopy, and emergent layers of a tropical rain forest, encountering a host of plants, animals, and native peoples along the way.

The Great Kapok Tree, by Lynne Cherry

In the dense, green Amazon rain forest, a man is chopping down a great Kapok tree.  The animals who live among its leaves and branches watch him silently.  Hot and weary, the man lies down to rest at the foot of the tree and falls asleep.  Then, one by one, the forest creatures emerge to whisper in his ear.  They beg him not to destroy their home and tell him how important every tree is in the rain forest.  An anteater reminds the man, “What happens tomorrow depends on what you do today.”  Finally, a Yanomamo child of the rain forest pleads, “When you awake, please look upon us all with new eyes”

The man wakes up with a start.  All around him are monkeys, tree porcupines, frogs, bees, butterflies, anteaters, birds of many colors, a jaguar, and a three-toed sloth.  Their whispers echo in his ears.  The man and the creatures stare silently at one another, and then he makes his decision.

Rain Forest, by Helen Cowcher

In the rainforest, creatures live peacefully.  Sloths, anteaters, and tapirs roam its cool floor.  Toucans and macaws nest in its canopy.  And, high above its exotic foliage, butterflies flutter.  Jaguar prowls his lush kingdom.  But, suddenly, a cry of alarm sounds through the rainforest.  Something even more powerful than Jaguar is threatening this world, and the creatures know that change is coming.



Once your child’s passport is full of stamps, they are eligible to win some great door prizes.

Backpack full of school supplies

  • Bicycle and helmet
  • Tickets to Schlitterbahn Beach Waterpark
  • Sport physical courtesy of Valley Day & Night Clinic
  • Gift Cards
  • And more!



During Kids Appreciation Day, this year we are focusing on rainforests. The vanishing rainforests are home to 50% of the world’s plants and animals, some of which you can find at the Gladys Porter Zoo. Some of the activities, crafts and games include:

Bird Mask – The largest variety of birds make the rainforest their home.  Kids can choose from a macaw, cassowary or hornbill design to color and wear as a mask.

Termite Fishing – Apes have been known to use tools just like us!  Over 40 years ago, famous chimpanzee researcher, Jane Goodall, first observed chimpanzees using sticks as tools to fish termites out of mounds to eat.  Test your tool-using skills by fishing for termites just like chimpanzees do.

Rainforest Match-up – There are four distinct layers that make up a rainforest. In this game, children will learn what animals can be found in the various layers of the rainforest.  Then, test their memory and toss bean bag “animals” into the correct layer.

Tiger Smoothie – Make yourself a healthy treat to take on your trek throughout the Zoo.  This smoothie features foods that fruit-eating rainforest animals at the Zoo enjoy.

 Rainforests of the World – Tropical rainforests cover only a small part of the Earth’s surface, yet they are home to over half of the species of plants and animals in the world.  Match the animal to the continent to which it makes its rainforest home.

Snap a Selfie with H-E-B Buddy – Win unlimited visits to the Gladys Porter Zoo for a year!  Snap a selfie with H-E-B Buddy using the hashtag #KidsAppreciationDay2016 and post to any social media platform to enter.   Five winners will be randomly selected from those who submitted selfies with H-E-B Buddy.  Contest ends at 6:00 p.m. on August 7, 2016.  Winners will be announced on Monday August 8, 2016.

Face Painting & Temporary Tattoos – At this station, kids can get the design of their choice painted or tattooed on their cheek or hand.

 Monster Mural – Kids always enjoy coloring.  Our custom mural is 7.5 feet wide by 2 feet tall.

Forage for a Reward – The herbivorous tapir forages for food on the rainforest floor.  Kids can mimic the behavior of a tapir by searching for “play” fruit for a prize.



Thanks to our event partner, Valley Regional Medical Center, for coordinating the health and wellness part of this event.

Staff from Valley Regional Medical Center (VRMC) Diabetes Team, VRMC Bariatric Coordinator, Brownsville Community Health Center, Brownsville Kiddie Health Center, Medwin Family Medicine and Rehab and Rodeo Dental will be on hand to help with various activities:

Heights & Weights


Vision Screening

Glucose and Pressure Screening

Healthy Snacks

Dental Hygiene


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