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Houston Zoo's new Galápagos Islands Exhibit will open to public in April

After nearly five years, the Houston Zoo announced that it had surpassed its $150 million fundraising goal.

HOUSTON — The Houston Zoo on Wednesday made two major announcements: It surpassed a major fundraising milestone and will be opening a new exhibit in a couple of months.

Fundraising money

The zoo launched the "Keeping Our World Wild" fundraising campaign in April 2018 with a target goal of $150 million.

It got started with a $50 million gift from the John P. McGovern Foundation, the largest gift in the zoo’s history. Generous donations for the campaign were also given by The Brown Foundation, Houston Endowment and The Robert and Janice McNair Foundation. To date, the zoo said the campaign has secured 1,001 gifts totaling $151,693,153.32 from 707 donors.

What the money is doing

The money is being used to complete Phase I of the zoo's master plan.

"So far, the campaign has contributed to the opening of Hamill Foundation Black Bear Exhibit, Cypress Circle Café, Kathrine G. McGovern Texas Wetlands, a renovated orang /,.utan exhibit and the award-winning South America's Pantanal," the oo said in a release.

The new Galápagos Islands Exhibit will open on April 7.

"The first major exhibit of its kind to showcase the remarkable wildlife of the legendary island chain, the Houston Zoo’s Galápagos Islands will immerse guests in environments evoking the archipelago’s unique landscapes and oceanic habitats and highlight efforts to protect it for the future," the zoo said of the exhibit.  "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."

Stars of the show

  • 9 California sea lions ("standing in" for the closely related Galápagos sea lions)
  • 10 giant Galápagos tortoises
  • 2 black-tip sharks
  • 2 bonnethead sharks
  • 1 green sea turtle
  • School of stingrays
  • 100s of colorful fish
  • Coral reef
  • 270,000-gallon aquarium

Coming soon

Colony of 14-16 Humboldt penguins (Galápagos penguins are strictly protected and are the most endangered penguin species in the world)

Here's raw video of the exhibit as workers prepare it for its public debut.

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