When I was a child, every summer my mother enrolled us in the Summer Safari program at Glady’s Porter Zoo. I loved going there and learning about the animals. We would do many different activities and walk the zoo. It was literally the best part of my childhood.
The Glady’s Porter Zoo is in Brownsville TX. It is considered one of the best zoos in the country. The zoo has a strong conservation program and they have seen the birth of many wonderful animals over the years, helping grow endangered species’s populations.
One of the best parts of the zoo, is the way that the animals are housed. Unlike many zoos, Glady’s Porter designs the enclosures to mimic the animals’ natural habitat. The zoo has a large spread of land which it can use and has been given more by the city.
As a child, my favorite part of the zoo was the giraffes. I still love giraffes. I don’t know why they are my favorite animal, but they are. I love wolves and I love sharks and others as well, but the giraffe is the best. They are so peaceful and tall, and ungainly. You wouldn’t think they were beautiful when you look at the oddness of their body shape. Yet they have grace and poise and kind faces. Maybe, thinking about it now, that’s why I connected with them.
Glady’s porter has an aviary. It’s kinda frightening going in there. All those birds, flying free, all around you. Very Hitchcockian. But it is also pretty cool. I don’t know how recent the changes have been, but they added a butterfly enclosure. Filled with flowers and free flying butterflies, it is kind of like a wonderland area. They also added a new activity center where they display some fossils that were excavated in the Rio Grande Valley area. It even hosts a playground zone now.
Since my birthday is in July, we had several parties at the zoo. As I walked it during my recent visit, I stopped at the area where we would have the celebration. It is still an eating spot.
I was sad to see that the polar bears are gone. I don’t know why. I remember one summer, as we walked past their enclosure, we caught them swimming. I have always been a fan of bears. Though they seem cuddly, they are actually very dangerous. The dichotomy of it appeals to me.
I didn’t see the elephants during this visit. I recall that the zoo had some issues when I was younger with the male elephant. He apparently had tried to kill the baby that was born to them. I remember seeing how they had built a wall to separate him and how the female and baby would come lean against it while he was leaning on the other side. There’s something about that which stirred me and even recalling it now gives rise to sadness.
My biggest regret is that my family moved to Houston during the summer of my sophomore year in high school. This meant no more summer safaris. But more than that, it meant not being able to be a part of the conservation side of the zoo. Only the junior and seniors who participated during the summer, and even during the school year, got to be in the baby zone and work with the staff on that part of the zoo’s program. Wish I had been able to stick around for that. But, I can enjoy going back and seeing all the work the zoo has done. If you are ever in the area., you definitely should visit the Glady’s Porter Zoo.