On Saturday, April 30, Houston Zoo launched its centennial year by hosting a day-long birthday celebration in the heart of Houston where community members and special guests were invited to join the festivities.

Upon entering, guests were greeted by animal ambassadors and learned how they can help save their wild counterparts. At the historic reflection pool, Houston Zoo president and CEO, Lee Ehmke, highlighted the Zoo’s most iconic and historic moments of the century.

“At one point Hermann Park and the Zoo were one in the same, there was no fence around the Zoo but there was a fence around Earl but look at it now, we’re a world-class, zoo-based wildlife conservation organization right here in the heart, and in the hearts, of Houston,” said Ehmke. “Over the past 100 years, our Zoo has seen two world wars, a depression, multiple hurricanes and a pandemic, yet we persevered and have thrived. Today, we’re connecting communities with animals to inspire action to save wildlife. We’ve transformed the Zoo to take visitors around the world from the far reaches of South America in our Pantanal exhibit to our very own Texas Wetlands, but we’re far from done.”

Photo credit: Daniel Ortiz/for the Houston Zoo

The city of Houston’s partnership and collaboration throughout the years has enabled the Zoo to transform into the 55-acre, world-class conservation organization it is today. More than 6,000 animals from 600 species call the Houston Zoo home while also receiving top-quality care. It’s for this reason, and many others, Mayor Sylvester Turner announced April 30, 2022, to be publicly recognized as “Houston Zoo Day” in the city.

“Over the last 100 years, as we’ve faced shocks and stresses, the Houston Zoo is still here going strong, not pulling back but continuing to be transformational for the people in our city…the Houston Zoo exemplifies the resilience of our city,” said Mayor Sylvester Turner.  “When you look at all of these 6,000 [animal] residents and all of these kids and families that come here we’re not San Diego, we’re not the Bronx we’re not Miami we are in Houston, Texas this is the Houston Zoo this is our centennial and I look forward to what happens in the next 100 years to come.”

April 30

Guests had the opportunity to learn more about the Zoo’s 100-year history and witness animals in action by attending many of the 22 centennial-themed keeper chats during the day. Other activities included Zoo history trivia, birdhouse crafts, live ice carving, and much more. The community is invited to keep the celebration going Sunday morning by registering for Walk for the Wild, a 5k fund-raising walk supporting the Zoo’s wildlife-saving programs.

Throughout the year, the centennial anniversary will continue to be highlighted across the city by unveiling several murals of artwork showcasing the Zoo’s global conservation efforts. The celebration will extend into 2023 with the grand opening of Galápagos Islands, the first major exhibit of its kind to showcase the remarkable wildlife of the legendary island chain.

“Our Galápagos Islands will immerse guests in an environment evoking the archipelago’s unique landscapes and oceanic habitats and highlight how to protect it for the future,” said Ehmke. “With sea lions, giant tortoises, sharks, Humbolt penguins and many more, Galápagos Islands will add an extraordinary immersive experience to Houston’s world-class zoo.” 

The Galápagos Islands is part of the Zoo’s historic $150 million Keep Our World Wild centennial campaign. An anonymous donor has recently promised to match every gift up to $1.5 million to double the impact of every contribution. By donating at, Zoo supporters will help finish the stunning Galápagos Islands exhibit and, for the first time, bring penguins to the Houston Zoo.

The Houston Zoo will be celebrating its centennial all year long. To learn more, visit