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Zoo Reaches Half a Million Visitors – 510,000th Visitor Will Win $500

The staff at the Gladys Porter Zoo is excited to announce that it has surpassed all previous attendance records. However, it has yet to award the $500 promised to the half millionth guest.

The Zoo unknowingly surpassed its annual attendance goal of 500,000 visitors early in December. This was due to the accidental omission of the attendance figures for two of the Zoo’s biggest events, Boo at the Zoo and Zoo Nights and Lights. When the error was discovered and the missing figures were added, it was realized that the attendance goal was surpassed by 7,615.

However, the Zoo is still committed to awarding $500 as previously promised. It is merely 2,385 visitors away from reaching the newly established goal of 510,000. Based on 2013 attendance records, zoo officials project that the cash prize can be awarded to a lucky winner by Christmas.

If you need another reason to visit the Zoo, don’t miss out on a fun-filled giving celebration this weekend. Saturday, December 20th at 9:30 a.m., members of the Zoo’s Docent Council will be distributing gift boxes full of goodies to the gorillas, chimps, orangutans, and other primates. Come and watch these curious creatures open their Christmas gifts and discover what is inside. The gift-giving will be starting at Gorilla Island, right inside the Zoo’s main entrance.

Zoo employees, Valley Zoological Society Board members, Gladys Porter Zoo Docent Council members and their immediate families are not eligible to win. The giveaway ends on December 31, 2014 at 5:00 p.m. or when our 510,000th visitor comes through the admission gate.

Holiday Gift Ideas

Support the Gladys Porter Zoo by giving your friends and family a wild gift this holiday season. Purchase a Zoo membership, day passes, Adopt-an-Animal or pick-up a unique gift at the Zoofari gift shop. The Zoo is open every day; visit us on Christmas for that last minute gift.  (Order Form

Zoo presents a new member to the family, a rhinoceros calf.

The Zoo presents a new member to the family, a rhinoceros calf. Julie, a white rhinoceros that arrived to the Zoo in June, was expected to give birth near the end of October; however, the 125 pound calf came unexpectedly on the morning of August 30th. It has been 20 years since the Zoo has last had a baby rhino.

The calf, affectionately named Abigail, along with her mother, Julie, has been off-exhibit since the birth and doing well. “It’s easier for us to keep an eye on them. We don’t have to worry about aggression between the mother (Julie) and the other female (Tilly),” states Walter Dupree, Curator of Mammals. Behind the scenes, keepers have been working to socialize the three rhinos, while also making sure the exhibit is safe for the calf. Finally after a month, both mom and baby made their debut to the public on Saturday October 11th.

Due to poaching, these creatures are on the verge of extinction. There are only about 11,000 white rhinoceros living in the wild today. Abigail is part of the Species Survival Plan (SSP), which manages the captive rhinoceros population to ensure that all breeding animals will contribute to a healthy and genetically diverse population.

Make sure to stop by the Zoo and view the newest baby on exhibit

About the Russell Aquatic Ecology Center

The Russell Aquatic Center at the Gladys Porter Zoo is all about the aquatic habitats of South Texas and the animals and plants that live there. Some of the exhibits feature naturally occurring habitats, such as the open ocean, resacas, sea grass beds and mangroves, while other exhibits display man made habitats such as jetties and piers.

The 30,000 gallon Deep Water Exhibit is the largest exhibit in the Aquatic Center – six feet deep with a footprint of 26 feet by 26 feet. This exhibit will house representatives of the larger marine fish and invertebrates commonly found in the bay and near shore waters, such as red snapper, black drum, sandtrout, sheepshead, spadefish, snook, lookdowns, jacks, orange spotted filefish, pufferfish, giant red hermit crabs and of course everyone's favorite – sharks!

A rehabbed sea turtle on loan from Sea Turtle, Inc. will make the 2,800 gallon Ancient Mariners Exhibit its home. Fish commonly found living in and around South Texas jetties will also make it their home, such as snappers, mullet, pompano, sergeant majors and blennies.

The Freshwater Giants Exhibit will feature the fish, plants and reptiles found in the resacas of South Texas, including alligator gar, spotted gar, Rio Grande cichlids, catfish, bass, softshell turtles and snapping turtles.

Most of the marine habitats in South Texas have sandy or muddy bottoms, however, there are a few rocky reefs such as the 7 ½ Fathom Reef near Corpus Christi. In this exhibit, you will find many of the colorful fish often associated with coral reefs such as angelfish, damselfish, butterflyfish and moray eels.

Fiddler crabs will be displaying their large claws in the 400 gallon Mangrove Exhibit that they will share with terrapins and smaller fish commonly found in mangroves. This includes sheepshead minnows, killifish, cowfish, burrfish and the young of many species including redfish, snappers and jacks.

The open ocean is represented by the Keppel AmFELS Ghostly Jellyfish Exhibit, which features . . . you guessed it . . . moon jellies (and yes, you can call them jellyfish if you prefer – as long as you understand that they are not actually fish!). In addition, a variety of smaller exhibits will be scattered around the Aquatic Center, which will allow us to display animals that tend to get lost in the larger exhibits, such as seahorses, octopus, sea robins, stargazers, live shrimp, crabs and live snails.

And finally, the Stingray Touch Tank, crowning glory of the Aquatic Center, will house a variety of local stingrays, cownose rays, southern rays and Atlantic rays. Visitors will be able to touch these animals. Hopefully, in the near future during designated times, visitors will be able to purchase food to feed the rays once they become acclimated and more comfortable in their surroundings.

The Russell Aquatic Ecology Center will be open from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. daily. There is no additional fee to enter the center.

Discovery Tile Program

Support the Zoo by purchasing a Discovery Tile to recognize or honor a family member or loved one. Every tile purchase supports our cause: completion of our new education building. The South Texas Discovery Center is scheduled to open in 2013. If you need additional information or want to purchase your tile contact the Education Department at educ@gpz.org or (956) 548-9453 ext. 319. Download an order form today.

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For more information, please call (956) 546-7187