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Kids Appreciation Day - Sunday, August 3, 2014 / 12:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.

H-E-B and News Center 23 present the 11th Annual Kids Appreciation Day at Gladys Porter Zoo. This year, to further celebrate the soon to be open South Texas Discovery Center, we will highlight creatures that make South Texas their home. The first 1,000 kids to make a passport get a free goodie bag.

The passport will take your child on a quest around the Zoo where they will visit themed activity stations focusing on health and wellness, safety, conservation and animal enrichment. Once their passport is full, they will be eligible to enter a drawing for back-to-school prizes. The event is free with regular paid Zoo admission or Zoo membership.

Kids Appreciation Day coincides with National Kids Day, which is a day set aside each year to celebrate and honor America's children by spending meaningful time with them.

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.


Dinosaurs Safari March 15th - Sept 1st

Walk back in time to discover a world ruled by giants. Dinosaur Safari features new animatronic dinosaurs not previously displayed at Zoo, along with visitor favorite, the T-Rex. Plus real fossils, and interactive activities for children, including a fossil dig and dinosaur rubbing station. Get to know all the interesting characteristics of some of these prehistoric creatures. Admission into the exhibit is $3.00 with regular paid admission or Zoo membership.


Saturday Morning Safari September – January - May 2014

The Gladys Porter Zoo will be hosting its third annual charity Texas Hold’em Poker Tournament presented by Capital One Bank. The tournament will be held at Cardenas Mercedes Benz in Harlingen. Proceeds from the event will benefit the Zoo’s capital campaign projects. Currently, the Zoo has two major projects underway, the South Texas Discovery Center and Gorges Small World Renovation.


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