Gladys Porter Zoo in Brownsville, Texas

Zoos may be a controversial issue for some but I absolutely love them and appreciate what they do. I love being able to see animals I would never otherwise see in the wild and that may, in fact, not exist in the wild in the near future. I won’t apologize to anyone who doesn’t agree with me for feeling this way. So, if you feel strongly that animals should only exist in the wild until humans wipe them off the face of the earth, please just pass this post on by. I’m going to tell you about the Gladys Porter Zoo in Brownsville, Texas, and the important work they do.

Gladys Porter Zoo in Brownsville, Texas, has more than 1500 animals, representing nearly 400 species, and is known for its success in breeding endangered wildlife.

I grew up in southern California and visited the San Diego Zoo and Safari Park quite often. In my opinion, it has to be one of the best zoos in the world, so every zoo I visit has a lot to live up to. I visit zoos, sanctuaries and animal parks whenever and wherever I can.

Visiting the Gladys Porter Zoo in Brownsville, Texas

The Gladys Porter Zoo is in the middle of town but easy to get to and easy to find. There is a fair amount of parking, which costs $5 when you exit.

About the Zoo

The first thing that stood out for me when I was reading about the Gladys Porter Zoo in Brownsville is that when it opened in 1971, it was one of the first zoos in the country without barred cages. Most of the animals in this 28-acre zoo are displayed in open settings that are similar to their native habitats. This was always the best part to me at the San Diego Zoo. The Gladys Porter Zoo has more than 1500 animals, representing nearly 400 species, and is known for its success in breeding endangered wildlife.

When Gladys Porter Zoo in Brownsville opened in 1971, it was one of the first zoos in the country without barred cages. Click To Tweet

Gladys Porter Zoo is owned by the City of Brownsville and is operated by the Board of Directors of the Valley Zoological Society and has around 400,000 visitors annually.

The zoo is divided into four regions: Africa, Asia, Tropical America and Indo-Australia. There is also a herpetarium, an aquatic center, a free-flight aviary, harbor seal exhibit, Komodo dragon exhibit, bear grottos and more.

Gladys Porter Zoo is divided into four regions

Russell Aquatic & Ecology Center at Gladys Porter Zoo in Brownsville, TX
Herpetarium sign

South Texas Discovery Education Center at Gladys Porter Zoo in Brownsville, TX
Elephant scull in discovery center

Entrance to South Texas Botanical Exhibit & Park at Gladys Porter Zoo in Brownsville, TX

Highlights from my Visit to the Zoo

Many of you know that I’m a few years beyond qualifying as a senior citizen, yet in all that time, I have never fed a giraffe. I’ve had the opportunity at a few other zoos but it was always fairly expensive, usually around $10, and very crowded with long lines. Giraffe feeding here was only $3 and there were only a few people in line so I jumped on the chance. I asked one of the docents to take my picture. She got a great shot!

Giraffes are one of my favorite animals to photograph. You can see more in my post about the Sacramento Zoo.

GiraffesGiraffe

It was a relatively cool day (78 degrees) and fairly windy so the animals were pretty active when I got there in the late morning. Two of the rhinos put on quite a show for their small audience. I walked by the exhibit on my way out and they were all sleeping so I was very lucky to see this playful display earlier in the day. Be sure to watch the video below to see these guys (or girls) in action!

Did you know that a group of rhinos is called a crash? Bebop, a 5-year-old male southern white rhino, arrived at the zoo in March of 2018 and was fully integrated with the resident females, Julie and Abby, in October.

Did you know that a group of rhinos is called a crash? Meet Bebop, Julie and Abby at Gladys Porter Zoo. Click To Tweet

Southern white rhinosSouthern white rhino 2

I have always fancied being a bit of a wanna-be birdwatcher so I love photographing the birds at the zoo. This charming kookaburra seemed to enjoy posing for me. The African crowned crane was always one of my favorite birds to photograph at the San Diego Zoo.

kookaburra
African crowned crane

Oh, and the glorious flamingos! They are always so spectacular.

Flamingo at Gladys Porter Zoo

This pileated gibbon was quite a ham. He would actually come down to the end of the enclosure and pose when he saw someone pointing a camera in his direction. Clapping from the crowd got him swinging back and forth.

Pileated gibbonPileated gibbon

The oldest members of the three-generation Western lowland gorilla family have lived at the zoo for more than 30 years.

Lowland gorilla

Several species of lemurs live at the zoo including the critically endangered red ruffed lemurs and black and white ruffed lemurs.

Red ruffed lemurWhite and black ruffed lemur

Have you ever touched a stingray? Another first for me in the Russell Aquatic and Ecology Center at the Stingray Landing Touch Tank. They really seem to enjoy it!

Have you ever touched a stingray? Visit the Stingray Landing Touch Tank at Russell Aquatic and Ecology Center. Click To Tweet

Stingray landing

Be sure to check out the video to see lots of these critters in action.

Why Zoos Like the Gladys Porter Zoo are Important

  • A connection with animals inspires passion to protect and save them
  • Breeding and caring for endangered species help protect against extinction
  • Potential for release back into the wild of recovered species
  • Research into health and behavior help solve problems in the wild

The Gladys Porter Zoo has been an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) since 1978 and participates in their Species Survival Plan program to help ensure the survival of selected wildlife species. It coordinates its efforts of breeding rare and endangered species with other zoos to contribute to maintaining a genetically sound captive population. They contribute funds to other conservation and research programs in the field.

The Details

Address and Telephone
500 Ringgold Street
Brownsville, Texas 78520
Telephone (Information Recording): (956) 546-2177
Administrative Office: (956) 546-7187
Education Department: (956) 548-WILD (9453)

Hours
Open every day of the year from 9:00a.m. until 5:00p.m. with extended summer hours.

Admission
Adults: $13.00
Children: (2-13 years): $8.00
Seniors: $10.50
Admission is free for children under 2

Gladys Porter Zoo in Brownsville, Texas, has more than 1500 animals, representing nearly 400 species, and is known for its success in breeding endangered wildlife. #travel #usa #texas #zoo #conservation #wildlife
Gladys Porter Zoo in Brownsville, Texas, has more than 1500 animals, representing nearly 400 species, and is known for its success in breeding endangered wildlife. #travel #usa #texas #zoo #conservation #wildlife

Until next time…



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13 Comments

  1. Looks like you had a pawsum time awnty Ava. We luv seein’ animals of all kinds. Well, most kinds. MOL Fanks fur sharin’ your video and fotos with us. Big hugs

    Luv ya’

    Dezi and Raena

  2. Aww it looks like the animals are very active! Great photos! So cool that they let you feed the giraffes! Entrance is cheap, looks like a super fun day!

  3. Zoos have indeed changed dramatically in our lifetimes. Major zoos today work with conservationists to try to save species that are disappearing FAST! It’s not just “showing off caged animals” anymore. Without zoos to provide a refuge for endangered critters & opportunities for young people to see and learn about animals the world will be a pretty sad place.

  4. That’s good to hear that they keep the animals in open environments instead of cages. We always enjoy visiting zoos when we travel, because it’s so educational for our kids, but we always make sure that the animals are treated respectfully at the zoos. Looks like the Gladys Porter Zoo would be a good choice for us.

  5. omg this zoo looks so lovely! need to visit asap

  6. Loved the post.So very interesting Ava. Gosh you explain everything so well and have pictures along with your post and gives us a better understanding of the story, live them!

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