Houston Zoo animals were once among a very modest collection when compared to the extensive exotic collections seen in most modern urban zoos. The zoo's first humble beginnings matched the history of the city and began in 1905 when the city had a grand total of 80 automobiles. In fact, it was in the town of Humble near the George Bush Intercontinental Airport that oil was first discovered in the Houston area and signaled the explosive growth of the region. At the time, the Houston Texas Zoo had some rabbits, raccoons, eagles from Mexico, a black bear and a great horned owl, some capuchin monkeys, prairies dogs, and an alligator pond. In 1920, the United States government donated an American bison to the city. These were all housed in Sam Houston Park in Downtown Houston.
After Earl the bison arrived, the Houston Texas Zoo was relocated to Hermann Park in the city’s Museum District and cared for a total of 40 animals, a remarkable number of exotic creatures at that time. By 1925, there were more than 400 animals, including elephants from Asia. It was in the two decades after World War II that the Houston Zoo saw its greatest expansions. A pool was built for donated sea lions; a monkey house and a reptile house were built. Giraffes arrived and a children’s petting zoo was added.
In the 1980s and 1990s, the Houston Texas Zoo was a pioneer in creating natural habitats for its residents, including the Africa lion and Australia koala bear habitats and the Tropical Bird House. While the Houston Aquarium (located in Downtown Houston) is one of the city’s popular attractions, there is also an aquarium at the zoo. Today, the zoo is the only place in Texas where you can see living elands, the largest of all antelopes. For comparison, you may want to visit the nearby Museum of Natural Science to see one of the only taxidermed specimens of the rare African bongo, a shy antelope from Central and East Africa.
The Houston Zoo is often counted as one of the eighteen major museums located in the respected Museum District that make this southern city one of the finest cultural destinations in the United States. Like the other museums, it has certain days and hours that offer free admission to the general public. You can secure Houston Zoo coupons that give you free admission as a member, but if your vacations occur only during a certain period of time, the free days are major holidays—Martin Luther King Day, President’s Day, Columbus Day, the Friday after Thanksgiving, and New Year’s Day. The facility is open every day of the year except Christmas Day.
Aside from this, you can get Houston Zoo coupons in a variety of ways. The Houston CityPass provides six general admission tickets, as well as free admission to other museums and discounts at select dining and shopping spots throughout the city. The CityPass is similar to the kinds of passes offered by other major international cities—from Amsterdam and London to Boston and San Francisco. They can provide excellent value for your vacation dollar, especially if you’re enjoying family vacations. Other Houston Zoo discounts are available simply by riding the city’s public transportation (the Metro), and many retail outlets, like the stores at the Galleria and Rice Village, offer Houston Zoo coupons after purchasing a certain amount of merchandise.