16 Must-See Houston Zoo Exhibits and Attractions

When you visit the Houston Zoo, there is no shortage of fantastic exhibits and attractions. Spread over 22 hectares in Hermann Park, the zoo is home to 6,000 animals from over 600 species.

Whether you like to walk through a tropical wetland, observe elephants in their habitat or admire the lights of the Houston Zoo which shine every year from November to January, there is something for everyone at the second most visited zoo in the world. country.

To make sure you don’t miss the best things this zoological wonder has to offer, we’re shining the spotlight on 16 must-see exhibits and attractions at the Houston Zoo.

Pantanal of South America

Escape to Brazil without ever leaving the Houston Zoo. South America’s Pantanal, the world’s largest tropical wetland, comes to life on 4.2 acres of zoo grounds and showcases the animals the zoo helps protect in the wild, such as giant anteaters and carpets. When you enter this immersive exhibit, you’ll see rustic ecolodge-like buildings that line the rivers of the real Pantanal region, as well as more than 51 unique animal species that inhabit this wetland.

Baird’s Tapir at the Houston Zoo.

Kevin Kendrick/Houston Zoo

Wortham’s Primate World

Lemurs, orangutans, and terrapin tamarins are some of the animals residing in Wortham’s primate world. As you stroll down a winding boardwalk, you’ll have access to rare and endangered primates like Max and Murray, two white-cheeked gibbons.

Carruth Natural Encounters

Meerkats and monkeys and piranhas, oh my! When you enter this exhibit, you step into the vast animal kingdom of a continent under an air-conditioned roof. Prepare to be mesmerized as waterfalls lap into pools and the likely chance of seeing animals from all angles, including moon jellyfish (jellyfish), Asian small-clawed otters and naked mole rats.

John C. McGovern Children’s Zoo

Want to explore a realistic bat cave or watch a river otter frolic underwater? You and your younger zoologists can spot them here, along with bald eagles, toads, foxes, porcupines and goats.

Visitors can see giant otters at the Houston Zoo.

Visitors can see giant otters at the Houston Zoo.

Kevin Kendrick/Houston Zoo

Kathrine McGovern Water Play Park

Open daily from April 1 through September 15 (though currently closed all summer for maintenance repairs), the Water Play Park is included with your admission to the Houston Zoo. The impressive park, located near the entrance to the medical center (near the carousel), offers more than 13,500 square feet of entertainment, including a “fill and spill” water tree, fountains, jets and foggers. Appropriate swimwear is required and there are private changing rooms nearby.

McNair’s Elephant Habitat Area

Eight elephants live in this area which includes a naturalistic habitat with a huge 160,000 gallon pool and a 7,000 square foot barn. You may even spot Tilly, one of the newest members of the family. (The newborn calf weighed just 345 pounds at birth.) Want to watch elephants from home? Catch the mighty zoo pachyderms webcam between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. (CT/CST).

Explore nature! Nature playground

When your little ones need a break from the stroller, head to this fun nature playground where they can climb a rock face, dig through mud pits and create sand castles. It’s the perfect place to run and let off steam.

african forest

Walk along a path leading to a trading outpost in the village, past small huts and a fire pit to reach the zoo’s African Forest. From conservation successes of the southern white rhino and Grant’s zebra (the smallest subspecies of zebra) to chimpanzees, ostriches and giraffes, this exhibit is a must-see for all ages.

The Giraffe Exhibit at the Houston Zoo.

The Giraffe Exhibit at the Houston Zoo.

Michael K. via Yelp

Giraffe feeding platform

Who doesn’t want to get up close with giraffes? Interact with the family of Masai giraffes on the zoo feeding platform by feeding crunchy lettuce treats to your new friends. Giraffe feedings take place daily at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.

House of Reptiles and Amphibians

From a yellow frog (also known as the Panamanian golden frog) to a king cobra, to lizards and newts, some of the world’s most venomous snakes and amphibians are found in this house.

sea ​​lion habitat

Near the zoo’s main entrance, you can’t miss the sea lion habitat. Watch the sea mammals splash around in their pool or laze on their private beach. Check the daily schedule when you arrive, you can watch a sea lion show.

A man and three children look at flamingos at the Houston Zoo.

A man and three children look at flamingos at the Houston Zoo.

Sarah G. via Yelp

Bird habitats

The Houston Zoo is home to one of the largest bird collections of any US zoo with over 200 species and 800 birds. Three main bird exhibits encompass the collection: Fischer Bird Garden, the Tropical Bird House, and Birds of the World. St. Vincent Island’s rare Amazon parrot, Micronesian kingfisher (the zoo breeds them behind the scenes to save the species from extinction) and Chilean flamingos are some of the notable birds to watch out for. Can’t make it to the zoo? Observe the flamingos in their habitat between 7:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m. (CT/CST) by themselves dedicated webcam.

wildlife carousel

No trip to the Houston Zoo would be complete without a ride on the carousel, and many of the animals featured on the carousel live in the zoo. Carousel tickets are $4 each, but for $4.95 you can get unlimited rides plus a conservation wristband. (Children under 42 inches must be accompanied by an adult for safety reasons, but the adult is not required to purchase a ticket.)

Kathrine G. McGovern Texas Wetlands

Another must-do zoo wetlands excursion involves a trip to the Kathrine G. McGovern Texas Wetlands. Three native Texas species—bald eagles, whooping cranes, and American alligators—meander through this lush wetland habitat. Previously endangered, each species now thrives in Texas.

Houston Zoo Lights

Although the zoo’s festive lights are only available from November through January, the attraction is one of Houston’s main holiday traditions. Enjoy animal-themed lanterns and thousands of glowing flowers with oak trees nestled in wintry lights and experience guaranteed Texas “snow” in the middle of this winter wonderland.

During the holiday season, the Houston Zoo hosts its popular Zoo Lights attraction.

During the holiday season, the Houston Zoo hosts its popular Zoo Lights attraction.

Houston Zoo

insect house

Is a trip to the zoo really complete without a visit to the insect house? Insects and spiders are important parts of the Texas environment because they act as pest control and pollinate fruits and vegetables. Learn about these tiny creatures and learn how the zoo works behind the scenes to feed, raise and house all of its insects and arachnids.

Houston Zoo
6200 Hermann Park Drive
Houston, Texas 77030

Hours: 9 a.m.-5 p.m., daily; last entry is at 4 p.m.

Pro tip: Before leaving, download a Houston Zoo Map and book your tickets on line.

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