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The Complete Guide to the Houston Zoo

The Complete Guide to the Houston Zoo

Are you on the hunt for a relaxing and enjoyable time? Why not take a visit to the Houston Zoo? 

Before you set off on an adventure there, we’ve compiled an easy-to-follow guide to assist you in planning the perfect day at the zoo. 

Operating Hours & Admission Fees 

How much does the Houston Zoo cost? Well, while zoo members and children can get in for free, the normal admission fees are:  

  • $15.95 for children ages 2-11
  • $19.95 for adults ages 12-64 
  • $14.95 for senior citizens (65+) 

Now, what are the Houston Zoo operating hours? 

As a family-friendly attraction for all, the Houston Zoo remains open every day from 9 AM to 7 PM. Yes, they are even open when it rains.

 So pack your umbrellas if you go on a rainy day excursion. Of course, though, in the case of severe weather conditions, the Houston Zoo will most likely not be open. 

Lone Star & WIC 

Anyone under the Lone Star program (food stamps) can save a few dollars off normal admission and get their tickets for only $8.00. There’s a catch, though: you can only purchase up to two adult and three child tickets. Any extra tickets are normal admission. 

As for people with a WIC card, simply show your WIC card upon arriving at the Houston Zoo, and you can get 75% off the normal ticket admission fee. 

College Student Admission 

For some college students, it’s already hard enough scraping enough dimes each month just to go to the barbershop

Thankfully though, if you’re a student of the University of Houston, Texas Southern University, St. Thomas University, or Rice University, you can get into the Houston Zoo for free. 

So college students, don’t forget your student ID the next time you head to the zoo. 

Houston Zoo Parking 

Here’s a question we get asked often: Where do you park for the Houston Zoo?

Unfortunately, the Houston Zoo does not have its own parking. However, there are various free and paid parking options available to all who visit the zoo. 

Free Parking 

If you’re trying to save money, snag a spot at one of these free parking places: 

  • The Sam Houston Monument
  • Near Miller Outdoor Theatre
  • Besides the McGovern Centennial Gardens 

Free street parking fills up fast, so we’d recommend getting to the zoo early. 

If you don’t mind spending a few extra dollars to avoid the hassle of driving around looking for free parking, check out these parking garages. 

  • Houston Museum of Natural Science Parking Garage 

Available: Daily

General Public Rate: $20

HMNS Members Rate: $10

  • Memorial Hermann Medical Plaza Garage 

Available: Daily

Weekdays: $15 day

Weekends/weeknights after 5 PM: $10 day

  • Texas Medical Center Garage #4

Available: Monday-Friday after 5:00 PM and Weekends All Day

Rate: $13

Zoo Must Sees & Dos 

The Houston Zoo ethically houses more than 6,000 animals in their natural habitats. While polar bears are not included among the animals at the Houston Zoo, there are 900 other species of animals to see. 

Naturally, it could be overwhelming trying to fit in all the animal exhibits in one day. So we’ve highlighted a few must-see things to see and do whether you’re going with family, friends, or even solo. 

Do – Giraffe Feeding 

You don’t have to travel all the way to Africa to have a one-on-one experience with some adorable giraffes. Every day for $7.00 from 11:00 AM to 2:00 PM, young and old can get up close to the giraffes at the Houston Zoo. 

The giraffes enjoy being hand fed fresh crunchy lettuce. As a little tip, you don’t want to stretch out your palm when you feed the giraffes. Rather, use your thumb and index finger to give the lettuce to them, and be careful not to tease the giraffes. 

See – Red Pandas 

Red Pandas appear to be a craze amongst children and adults; at least, that is what we’ve heard. The red panda habitat at the Houston Zoo has two cute snuggly red pandas who hang out throughout the day in their trees or huddle together in their dens. 

With all the cute moments to capture, get ready to become a photographer when you stop by the red panda habitat. 

Do – Splash Pad 

The water play park or the splash pad at the Houston Zoo is a great place for families to go to wind down on hot summer days. It’s also free with any admission into the zoo. F

From what we last heard, the splash pad is currently undergoing maintenance repair. It may be open for the summer, though. We’d recommend checking in with the Houston Zoo for updates. 

See – Elephant Exhibit

While you can’t get up and close to the elephants at the Houston Zoo, you can watch from a safe distance as these majestic animals go about their daily routine. If you time your visit just right, you may be able to catch the baby elephants bathing in their pools. 

Frequently Asked Questions 

How long does it take to walk through the Houston Zoo?

Those with children will need at least three hours to explore Houston Zoo. Children tend to take their time around their favorite animal exhibits and attend numerous zoo activities. 

Some parents don’t have the time to be the family nutritionist on zoo adventure days, so stopping for lunch at one of the restaurants may add an extra hour. 

However, unless you’re hurrying to the day spa or a dentist appointment, a group of adults can see the entire zoo in under 90 minutes. 

Are pets allowed at the Houston Zoo? 

Sorry pet lovers. Leave your pets back at your apartments because pets are not allowed at the zoo.

Am I able to bring food/drinks to the Houston Zoo? 

Outside food, drinks, and coolers are allowed. Yes, this includes water. To contribute to the animals’ safety, though, do not bring glass bottles and plastic straws. 

While beer is sold inside the zoo, the Houston Zoo does not allow guests to bring their own alcoholic beverages. 

Does the Houston Zoo have wheelchairs?

Manual push wheelchairs are available for $15, but no cash is allowed. 

Does the Houston Zoo have metal detectors? 

No. There are no metal detectors at the Houston Zoo. Do note, though, that concealing or open carrying of a handgun is still prohibited since the Houston Zoo abides by Houston city regulations. 

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