Last night the Houston Zoo invited the Flock, the zoo’s group of young supporters, to visit the giraffe house at the new African Forest exhibit.
More than 100 visitors arrived to the after hours event and got an up-close encounter with eight Masai giraffes housed at the zoo. Guests were taken in groups to a barn where they were able to stand on an elevated platform to feed, pet and play with the long-necked, spotted herbivores. As it turns out, giraffes are wildly social and curious. Without much prodding they walked right up to the visitors to nibble from their hands, pose for photos and take a lick at guests’ toes.
The giraffes are just one area of the zoo’s African Forest exhibit, which opened late last year. The 6.5-acre habitat is home to a colony of chimps, white rhinos, and antelope. While guests didn’t get up close and personal with the rhinos, keepers brought a few animals to the party including Olivia, one of the guinea hogs, and Ernie, the North American porcupine.
Cocktails? Brunch? A live DJ? Awesome animals? Yes, please! This was the set-up for the Houston Zoo’s Beastly Brunch held on Sunday and it was marvelous. The Beastly Brunch and other such events at the Zoo are held by Flock – The Houston Zoo’s Young Supporters Group who do their best to promote public awareness and interest in The Houston Zoo with events such as this one.
The DJ and the reflection pool created a perfect atmosphere for a Sunday brunch and the weather was superb! Cocktail bars, coffee and Sprinkles cupcakes were set up and down the length of the reflection pool with tasty buffet of bruchy eats at the end for everyone to enjoy. My coffee was followed by a bloody mary, a mimosa, croissants, various quiches, fruit and cupcakesâ€¦ that’s right; cupcakes and mimosas at the zoo with a herd of Houston’s animal lovers. Bliss.
Not only did The Houston Zoo provide an amazing morning of mingling and gnarly nibbles, but they also brought out some adorable critters! I got to meet a chinchilla and a very tiny owl. I’m a sucker for fuzzy and tiny creatures and these guys were just too much cute to handle.
It was a great day…
The Beastly Brunch lasted from 12pm-2pm; so afterward we walked off all the deliciousness with a stroll through the zoo, which is always a delight, waved goodbye to our new animal friends and headed home (sleepy, but excited for the next event at The Houston Zoo).
Kudos to Flock! Want to Join them?
Flock is a group of 21 and up professionals who devote themselves to the growth and success of The Houston Zoo with unique, exciting and educational events throughout the year. It’s easy to join Flock and a membership carries with it awesome privileges including entry to some fantastic shin-digs and exclusive volunteer opportunities.
Also, thank you to the sponsors of The Houston Zoo’s Beastly Brunch! Food, atmosphere and beverages were also provided by the following:
The Houston Zoo (a Schipul client) is hosting the annual AZA 2010 conference in Houston this year and we are lucky enough to join them to document the experience!
From a fantastic kick off bash at Houston MFAH to a standing ovation for keynote speaker Jim Collins (author of Good to Great), the AZA 2010 conference is a great and interactive experience for zoo and aquarium leaders to learn, connect and innovate.
Jim Collins led a great panel on moving Zoos from ‘good to great’ – some tidbits from the panelists:
When businesses do well, they are making a bunch of money. When Zoos are doing well, they are making faces and running around happy. They don’t know they are successful until they see it.
Graffiti – you go into a school where kids don’t honor their spaces. In Zoos, you see no graffiti. People respect your facility and honor it.
Hire for people skills, as well as animal skills.
Be strategic in what you accept and what you don’t do for revenue streams – even if you really need the money, you must stay true to your mission.
How do you decide what donors to partner with? Money is good, but mission is important. Do the sponsors make you feel ‘icky’? Will they shine a negative light on your brand. Then the answer is no.
On staffing, Jim says ‘first who, then what’. There is a difference between seats and bus – someone can be the right person on the bus, but you must put them in the right seat?
How long should you be patient? Values, will and skills – if it’s a skills question you can be patient longer. Either you are self-motivated or you are not, there is less time for this. Then there’s the values – and that’s a no patience zone. Either they match yours or they don’t. No patience.
What’s changing – what are the brutal facts?
People come to zoos that care and love us, but not for the reason we want them to. Zoos are passionate about conservation and education, but most attendees come for a fun experience. We are aware and we wrestle with that.
Biggest threat to wildlife is that we have a generation growing up that has little connection to nature. We must teach them our values and connect them to what’s important – and, as always, our educators are leading the way.
It’s wonderful to see zoos using animals as ambassadors – not just nameless objects. Give them a personalized experience that pulls visitors in. But it’s important how we position themselves to animals, as other organizations are connecting with the allure of animals. We must remain authentic, educational and passionate.
Want to see some more great #AZA2010 posts? Check out these great ones on the Houston Zoo blog:
Of all the things I imagined seeing this weekend, a cheetah on a leash taking a leisurely stroll through the Houston Zoo was NOT on the list. But that’s the kind of thing that happens during Photo Day at the Houston Zoo.
Photo Day is a series of 6 outings during which photographers and photography enthusiasts can visit the Houston Zoo and take pictures of the animals. Fellow Schipulite Derek Key (@dereskey) and I had the opportunity to attend Saturday’s photo day…and that’s how we saw the cheetah.
Our Day…in Photos
The animals are likely to be active during the earliest part of the day, especially in the summer…in Houston. So for Photo Day, the zoo opens two hours early (at 7am) and lets photo enthusiasts catch the early risers. I’ve been to the Houston Zoo countless times, but this is the first time I saw so many of the big cats and rare birds.
The lions roamed their pen long enough for photo ops…
Congratulations are in order for our client the Houston Zoo! After 23 months, Shanti the elephant has given birth to baby Baylor ~ named after the Baylor College of Medicine team in recognition for all they’ve done to reduce the threat of the elephant herpes virus. Appropriately, the week before Mother’s Day!
The adorable Baylor was born Tuesday morning at a healthy 348 pounds. It’s been an exciting time – over 50 volunteers and staff have been on 24-hour birth watch since February. The zoo held a baby shower for Shanti last month and showered her with gifts and a specially-made elephant cake.
And there’s more to come! Another Houston Zoo elephant, Tess, is due to give birth later this year.
More on baby Baylor
For more on baby Baylor and all of the elephants at the Houston Zoo, check out the zoo’s elephant blog Trunk Tales
SchipulCon09 is all about telling your story online. We’ll be talking everything from this magical “Social Media” thing that everyone from Oprah and everyone else is talking about to managing online conversation with your audiences using your Tendenci, WordPress or Drupal powered websites.
Since there is so much to share, we needed someone super passionate and super smart to kick off SchipulCon09 and get that knowledge ball rolling.
At SchipulCon Deirdre will be dishing on the convergence of marketing and Public Relations and how they mesh with our online world. She’ll also talk about how to facilitate conversations in this crazy new “Social Media” landscape using applications like as Facebook, Twitter and blogging. It’s out with the old and in with the new and Deirdre will be our guide.
For great savings on SchipulCon09 you should definitely register now. We’ve got an early-bird special running this month. From now until July31, you’ll be able to sign up for SchipulCon09 for only $49!! Starting August 1, prices will go up to $99 so why wait?
Simply head over to our Conference Site, grab some code, and post one of our super neat SchipulCon Badges on your site, blog or twitter background to show your love.
That is not all though!! We want to give some of you a free pass to the conference.
Send us the URL (communications@schipul dot com) to your site showing some SchipulCon love and you could win a free pass to the conference! We’ll be giving away random free passes from now until day one of SchipulCom and it’s so easy to win one! Show some love + Win a free pass! That’s it.
If you're an esteemed reader of our Tendenci newsletter, you already had a sneak peek at our Big News this week!
This year's Tendenci software and Schipul Web Marketing conference (now lovingly called SchipulCon) will be at the Houston Zoo on October 15 – 16th!!
Topics will range from some very exciting new Tendenci 5.0 feature showcasing by our Programming team to Social Media training to Web marketing strategies to online Community building classes. Know of a non profit or wannabe Web guru? Invite them to attend!! All are welcome 🙂
Tickets will go on sale later this month, in the meantime please do submit your SchipulCon training ideas and suggestions on our SchipuCon 2009 Forum. Can't wait to see you there!!
For those that do not regularly douse themselves in online cuteness, Cute Overload is very much what it sounds like – a site dedicated to capturing photos of animals that make you go ‘awwww’. Having a rough day at the office? Now you know just where to go to perk up.
Thanks to hawk-eye-for-online-silliness Fayza for finding this link. Happy Friday!
Early Friday morning, January 30 the Houston Zoo welcomed the birth of a bouncing baby boy Masai giraffe. â€œHe was born around 6:30 a.m. and by 7:50 a.m. he was standing on his own,â€ Giraffes are the tallest living terrestrial animal. The average male giraffe can reach a height of about 17 feet tall and can weight up to 3,000 pounds. The average female giraffe can reach a height of 15 feet tall. The average gestation period for Masai giraffes is 14 months.