One of Houston’s most visited attractions just added a new reason stop in.
The Houston Zoo’s new $70 million Galápagos Islands exhibit opened earlier this month to the delight of crowds. The exhibit includes a series of state-of-the-art immersive habitats featuring California sea lions, giant Galápagos tortoises, blue iguanas, green sea turtles, blacktip sharks and Humboldt penguins.
The long-awaited Galápagos Islands exhibit represents the culmination of the 55-acre institution’s $150 million six-year campaign that also included new exhibits such as the Kathrine G. McGovern Texas Wetlands, South American Pantanal and the Hamill Foundation Black Bear Exhibit.
What they’re saying: “After years of planning and construction, we can now say that our Houston Zoo is home to the first major Galápagos Islands exhibit in any zoo,” said Zoo President and CEO Lee Ehmke. “With this new exhibit, our more than 2 million annual guests will learn how our shared ocean connects us to species in the Galápagos and how our conservation actions here in Houston will lead to healthier oceans worldwide.”
The details: The Sea Lion Coast habitat includes a giant pool for some of the zoo’s most expressive residents and features an underwater acrylic tunnel that allows guests to view the sea lions as they swim. In another part of the exhibit, the 290,000-gallon One Ocean aquarium is the new home of the green sea turtles, blacktip reef sharks, bonnethead sharks and cownose stingrays.
Digging deeper: The Houston Zoo consistently ranks among the nation’s most visited zoos, drawing roughly 2 million guests annually to the campus inside Hermann Park. Over the last decade, the zoo has endeavored to create multiple immersive habitats including the massive African Forest exhibit featuring Western Lowland Gorillas and Masai Giraffes among other species. These multi-million-dollar renovations have transformed the campus and sharpened the zoo’s focus on both animal enrichment and the guest experience.
Image credit: Daniel Ortiz for Houston Zoo