Decades of Conservation: Zoo to celebrate 50th anniversary

The Gladys Porter Zoo invites the community to celebrate its 50th anniversary on Friday in Brownsville.

To commemorate the milestone, the zoo will charge visitors the same admission rates as they did when the gates first opened to the public in 1971.

“The staff at the zoo is excited and ready to celebrate with the  community,” the press release reads.

“On select weekends throughout the month of September, guests from various  counties across the Rio Grande Valley will be treated to 1971 pricing when  they visit the zoo: $1.50 for adults ages 14 and up; 50 cents for children ages 2 through 13; and, children under two years of age are free!”

This weekend, Brownsville residents will be able to take advantage of the discounted rate. The following weekend on Sep. 10 through the 12, the rate will be available for all Cameron and Willacy County residents, on Sep. 17 through the 19 for Hidalgo and Starr Counties and Oct. 8 through the 10 for out-of-Valley residents.

“Residents will need to show proof of residency, such as a driver’s license,  utility receipt or school ID. At least one family member must show proof of  residency at the gate,” officials said.

A black spider monkey hangs from a tree at Gladys Porter Zoo in Brownsville Monday as the zoo celebrates their 50th Anniversary. (Miguel Roberts/The Brownsville Herald)

The Board of Directors and the staff said they would like to thank the community for supporting the zoo for the past five decades.

They said hopefully these deeply discounted rates will make it possible for everyone to come out and celebrate.

“Thanks to the City of Brownsville, our entire community and some very  generous donors, there is much more to see at the zoo compared to when it  first opened,” said Dr. Patrick Burchfield, Gladys Porter Zoo’s executive   director.

“We now have a South-American walk-through aviary, an aquarium  featuring local ecosystems and their aquatic residents, a herpetarium and  multiple opportunities for families to interact with zoo animals. Children  can enjoy outdoor play at the Zoo’s enchanted South Texas-themed playground  that features sensational one-of-a-kind play structures. Most recently, the  Zoo has added El Mundo Huastec y Totonac, Colobus Crossing, and The  Otterbahn exhibits.”

A family enjoys visiting Gladys Porter Zoo during the zoo’s 50th Anniversary celebration as they mimic the sounds of a pileated gibbon to catch their attention inside their zoo exhibit . (Miguel Roberts/The Brownsville Herald)

During a previous interview with The Herald, Cynthia Galvan, the zoo’s marketing director, said she is very excited that as COVID-19 vaccination rates go up, more and more people are visiting the zoo while following the safety protocols implemented to keep both the public and the animals safe.

“We are a perfect venue because we are outdoors, so we are definitely getting a lot more people than we did last summer, for sure,” she said. “There’s lots of new things for people to see at the zoo. We opened the otter exhibit, which is brand new. The colobus monkeys is a new section as well and so we just want people to come out and see the new things that we have out here at the zoo for them to enjoy.”

Written by Nubia Reyna – The Brownsville Herald

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