Web Exclusive: How a Texas zoo cares for endangered animals


BROWNSVILLE, Texas (KVEO) – A baby Pygmy hippo made its debut this month at Gladys Porter Zoo. It is an animal listed as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List.

Clover and her baby Pygmy hippo are one of the 2,000 to 3,000 pygmy hippos believed to be left in the world. With a declining population due to loss of their habitat.

Rolando Gracia, Pygmy Hippo Headkeeper, “They’re endangered. We have to take care of them and we’ve been doing pretty good on that.”

The Pygmy hippos are just one of the many endangered animals at Gladys Porter Zoo.

Walter Dupree, Curator of Mammals, “We have about 57 different species of animals here at the zoo. I’m not talking about birds and reptiles and fish but just to mammals. About 57 different species and not only that but about half of them may be a little bit more than half are considered endangered either by the USDA or the IUCN which is one of the parties that measures endangerment and stuff for the animals.”

That includes the sea turtles, Western lowland gorillas, Philippine crocodiles, tree kangaroos, and the rhino.

Dupree says, “Now we cooperate with other zoos. We have a collaborative breeding we watch the genetics. We make sure the genetics are clean. If you know that German Shepherd dogs for instance, sometimes they inbreed them and they have the bad hips. We work with other zoos to make sure that doesn’t happen.”

They also help wildlife by participating in the American Zoo and Aquarium Association’s Species Survival Plan program to help ensure the survival of selected wildlife species.

“We don’t bring anything out in the wild anymore. As far as care, care should be the same for the animals whether it’s an endangered species or a very common species. We should set our standards very high and that’s what we try to do.” Says Dupree.

So animals like Clover and her baby, can continue to live on this earth as long as possible. Registration for the 2019 Ridley Rush, a one mile run that benefits the endangered sea turtle, is underway.

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