The Houston Zoo in Houston, Texas, announced the opening of the Galápagos Island exhibit in celebration of its Keeping Our World Wild campaign exceeding its $150 million fundraising goal. The new exhibit opens on 7 April 2023.
The first major exhibit of its kind to showcase the wildlife of the legendary island chain, Galápagos Islands will immerse guests in environments evoking the archipelago’s landscapes and oceanic habitats while highlighting efforts to protect it for the future. No place on our planet better exemplifies the wonders of unique species, the delicate balance of ecosystems, or the pressing need for conservation action more than the Galápagos.
“We are deeply grateful for the exceptional support we have received during our centennial campaign,” said Lee Ehmke, president and chief executive of the Houston Zoo. “The opening of our Galápagos Islands exhibit will be a momentous occasion, and we are excited to introduce these remarkable animals and places they represent to the community. It is our hope that this exhibit will inspire visitors to learn more about conservation and the vital role the Zoo plays in protecting these species for future generations.”
The Zoo is marking this occasion by introducing some of the new animal residents now moving into the exhibit: California sea lions who will stand in for Galápagos sealions; seven additional giant Galápagos tortoises; and two black-tip reef sharks, two bonnethead sharks, and a green sea turtle will highlight the 270,000-gallon One Ocean aquarium at the center of the Galápagos Island complex. A colony of 14-16 Humboldt penguins will also make the new exhibit their home, standing in for their rare cousins, the Galápagos penguin.
The campaign has also contributed to the Hamill Foundation Black Bear Exhibit, Cypress Circle Café, Kathrine G. McGovern Texas Wetlands, a renovated orangutan exhibit, and the South America's Pantanal.
The campaign launched on 5 April 2018 with a $50 million lead gift from the John P. McGovern Foundation. Generous support was also received from The Brown Foundation, Houston Endowment, and The Robert and Janice McNair Foundation. Chaired by board members Dr. Cullen Geiselman and Joe Cleary, the campaign raised funds from individuals, foundations, corporate partners, and the Houston Zoo's operational cash flows to complete Phase I of the Zoo’s master plan.
After the Galápagos Islands exhibit opens, the Zoo will transform its bird facilities into a state-of-the-art Birds of the World exhibit complex. Additionally, the Zoo has pledged to devote $5 million from the campaign to support wildlife conservation projects related to the new exhibits, in Texas and beyond.
Hero Photo Credit: © Houston Zoo - Kevin Kendrick
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