Los Fresnos News

Gladys Porter Zoo reopens to the public

A baby giraffe at one of the African exhibits at Gladys Porter Zoo in Brownsville, which reopened to the public on June 7. Photos: Tony Vindell / LFN


BROWNSVILLE – One of the Rio Grande Valley’s and Texas’ main tourist attractions – the Gladys Porter Zoo in Brownsville – has reopened to the public, but visitors must adhere to some changes when visiting the facility.
The zoo was closed for the most consecutive days since it opened in September 1971 because of the COVID-19 pandemic that hit back in March. Cynthia Galvan, the zoo director of public relations, said the zoo was closed for 70 days

“I have been working here for nearly 20 years,” she said, “and remember closing down for one day because of a hurricane threat.”

So after nearly 2 1/2 months of shutting its doors, Galvan said that in order to reopen a number of changes had to be implemented in order to comply with health regulations.

One was that the number of visitors has been set in increments. Another is that admissions to the zoo have to be made online and those going in to watch animals, birds and reptiles are required to walk in a single direction marked with animal paws.

Some areas inside the zoo, such as the children’s petting zoo and the educational center, are closed for the time being.

Also, the zoo’s operation hours are for now from 9 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. every day of the week.

A baby zebra, born in April, lays by its mother.

Galvan said one of the reasons behind buying admission tickets online is to avoid the long lines of people standing outside the admission booths.

The zoo, which has about 400 animal species, including tropical and neotropical types, is considered one of the nation’s top such facilities due to its work with breeding endangered species. But because of today’s economic restraints brought about by the pandemic, the facility is in need of money to keep feeding the animals and for other reasons.

A GoFundMe page has been set up for those wishing to donate money to the world-famous zoo.

Stevie Cortez and Alex Montalvo visited the zoo on June 9, the second day it reopened to the public.

“I love this zoo,” said Cortez, a Brownsville resident who attends college in New York City. “It’s not as crowded as the Bronx Zoo.”

For more information about the Gladys Porter Zoo, visit www.GPZ.org or call 956-546-7187.

One of two recently born gorillas at Gladys Porter Zoo takes a ride on the back of its mom.