HOUSTON — The Houston Zoo is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year. So in honor of the Zoo's centennial birthday, we're taking a walk down memory lane to cherish the park that brings us one with wildlife.
"We started in 1922 with a Bison named Earl on a small tract of land, right here in Hermann Park," said spokeswoman Jackie Wallace. "And it was kind of on the outskirts of town."
Earl was part of a federal conservation effort.
"They were starting to decline in numbers in the Great Plains," Wallace said. "And so the American government got together a herd and farmed ones and twos out all over the country to really showcase this amazing animal."
For decades, the city of Houston ran the Zoo. The city expanded exhibits to include elephants, lions, an aquarium and seals.
But the biggest game-changer for the Houston Zoo happened not that long ago.
In 2002, the Houston Zoo transitioned into a non-profit organization, allowing the zoo to continue the spirit of conservation by supporting 49 wildlife projects across 27 countries.
The newest exhibit opening next year is expected to draw attention to the Galapagos Islands.
The Houston Zoo's exhibits are what keep Houstonians coming back.
"10, 15, 20 times maybe," said visitor Alejandro Olivia.
And every time Olivia returns to the zoo, he experiences something new.
"We like to think that we are the heartbeat of Houston," Wallace said.
The Houston Zoo has become an institution that's become a part of so many family memories, field trips and firsts.
"We just are evolving every, every year and we hope that Houston will come with us," Wallace said.
What started with a Bison named Earl continues 100 years later.
The Houston Zoo is having a birthday party extravaganza on Saturday. Click here to reserve tickets to the birthday celebration.