Houston Zoo

Feed a giraffe, catch a 4-D movie or cool off in the water park at this extraordinary zoo.

The Houston Zoo is 55 acres (22 hectares) that houses more than 6,000 animals. There are snakes, Komodo dragons and white alligators in the Reptiles & Amphibians center; grizzly bears, jaguars and wolves in the Carnivores exhibit; and rhinoceros and Masai giraffes in the African Forest. It’s easy to see why more than 1.5 million people visit this diverse and entertaining zoo each year.

Pick up a map of all the exhibits at the Plan Your Day kiosk inside the main gate. Also get the schedule of “Meet the Keeper” talks, which take place throughout the day. These demonstrations by professional zoo keepers run the gambit from training a red panda to feeding a fruit bat. There are more than 20 demonstrations a day to choose from, so there’s something for everyone. Move from an elephant bath at the Elephant Barn to a Rhinoceros Viper feeding at the Reptile House, to chatting with the brave soul in charge of tending to the lions and tigers.

Don’t miss the opportunity to feed a giraffe, one of the zoo’s biggest attractions. The elegant Masai giraffes aren’t shy, so it’s possible to get within inches of these charming creatures as they pluck lettuce straight from your hands.

Summer days at the zoo are hot. Mist fans operate in the outdoor areas, or seek out indoor exhibits such as the reptile house and the aquarium. There’s a water play park for kids with paddle pools and slides. Grab an ice cream or a cold drink from one of a number of kiosks. Or, find a table in the air-conditioned restaurant. 

From the end of November through early January, the zoo is decorated with thousands of lights to celebrate the holiday season. It’s a special treat to see the zoo lights at night.

There’s a 4-D Experience cinema, with special effects such as bubbles, mist and smells. Expect family-friendly movies, like “Dora & Diego’s 4-D Adventure,” based on the popular TV show “Dora the Explorer.” There’s also a gift shop and a carousel ride. 

Conveniently located in Hermann Park and the Museum District, Houston Zoo is a quick metro ride or car ride from downtown hotels. Parking is free.

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