Accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) since 1978.

The Gladys Porter Zoo is an oasis nestled in the center of Brownsville, Texas. With 31 acres of lush tropical plants and some 1,600 animals, the Gladys Porter Zoo is known for its successes in breeding endangered species of wildlife.

About Us

The Gladys Porter Zoo is a visitor-oriented zoological and botanical park, dedicated to the preservation of nature through education, conservation, healthy outdoor recreation and research.

The park is divided into four zoo geographic areas: Africa, Asia, Tropical America and Indo-Australia. There is also a Herpetarium, Aquarium, Tropical America Free-flight Aviary, Macaw Canyon, Bear Grottos and Komodo dragon exhibit. Small World features a nursery and an animal contact yard where children can touch and interact with domesticated animals.


In a mere ¾ mile trek, a visitor to the Gladys Porter Zoo will encounter a diverse ensemble of 377 species of animals and 225 species of plants. The Gladys Porter Zoo opened to the public on September 3, 1971. The facility was completely planned, built, stocked, equipped and then given to the City of Brownsville by the Earl C. Sams Foundation. (Learn More)


At The Gladys Porter Zoo, we carry out our conservation mission by contributing to various conservation projects to preserve endangered species such as Kemp’s ridley sea turtles, Western lowland gorillas, and Philippine crocodiles. The Zoo also contributes funds to support conservation or research programs that take place in the home ranges of specific animals in need of attention. In the past, the Zoo has supported field projects to benefit Galapagos tortoises, Matchie’s tree kangaroos and several species of rhino, just to name a few. We also participate in the American Zoo and Aquarium Association’s (AZA’s) Species Survival Plan program to help ensure the survival of selected wildlife species.

Of the seven species of sea turtles in the world, the Kemp’s ridley, Lepidochelys kempii, is the most endangered. It is also the smallest sea turtle and the only species that nests primarily during the daytime. In 1978, a collaborative bi-national program between Mexico and the United States was developed to try and restore this species’ population to a self sustainable level, and in 1981, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service asked the Gladys Porter Zoo to administer the United States’ field portion of the joint U.S./Mexico effort to protect and increase the production of Kemp’s ridley sea turtles in their natal beaches located in the State of Tamaulipas, Mexico. To date, the Zoo still carries out that role. (LEARN MORE)

The Animal Health Department at the Gladys Porter Zoo is actively involved in assisting US Fish and Wildlife Services with ocelot health monitoring at Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge (LANWR). (LEARN MORE)

International Rhino Foundation: Gladys Porter Zoo’s Director Emeritus, Don. D. Farst, D.V.M., serves as a member of the Board of the International Rhino Foundation (IRF), whose mission is to contribute to rhino conservation by providing technical, administrative and financial services and support.  (LEARN MORE)

International Iguana Foundation: The Zoo’s General Curator, Colette Hairston Adams, serves as a member of the Board of the International Iguana Foundation (IIF), whose mission is to actively support conservation.  (LEARN MORE)

Determination of the Origin of Captive Galapagos Tortoises: A great number of the Galapagos tortoises that are currently in captivity were taken off of various islands in Galapagos early in the 20th century.  (LEARN MORE)

North American Cooperative Conservation for the Philippine Crocodile: Staff from the Department of Herpetology work with the Philippine government and the Philippine National Recovery Team.  (LEARN MORE)

Putting Wildlife Back: The Animal Health Department at the Gladys Porter Zoo is the principal wildlife rehabilitation unit for the Rio Grande Valley. Wildlife rehabilitation involves caring for injured, ill and orphaned wild animals with the goal of releasing eachinto its natural habitat. (LEARN MORE)





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