El Paso Zoo Walking Tour

The El Paso Zoo is closed at until further notice. This walking tour is designed to help you both plan your visit and enjoy your visit when the Zoo re-opens.


Due to a surge in COVID-19 infections, the City of El Paso has decided to postpone the reopening of Quality of Life facilities and services as a precaution for the health and safety of our community and the City’s workforce.

The spikes in COVID-19 cases announced by the Department of Public Health has forced the City to postpone the reopening of services that include the El Paso Zoo and Botanical Gardens, City museums, recreation centers, spray parks and library branches. The City had scheduled to reopen the facilities on July 1 but has decided to keep them closed.

The City will continue to work closely with the Department of Public Health to determine when Quality of Life Services can safely reopen to the community. Now more than ever, public health experts urge everyone to stay home as much as possible, practice good hand hygiene and if you must be out in public, practice social distancing and wear a face covering.

For more information about the City of El Paso’s COVID-19 containment efforts, visit www.epstrong.org.

Walking tour starts here

This self-guided tour is designed to help you enjoy as many animals as possible while you walk through the Africa, Americas and Asia areas of our Zoo. In fact, we’ve made a list for you, so you can check the animals off as you find them. How many can you find?

Not all zoo exhibits are described in this tour now because when the Zoo re-opens most indoor buildings will remain closed. Over time as indoor areas are opened more information will be added to the tour.

As you walk through the Zoo we will help you know what animals to look for and provide additional information on many species to complement the graphics located throughout the Zoo.

While exploring the Zoo if you do not see an animal it may be hiding or inside. If you are unable to see an animal try coming back to that exhibit later on during the day. Because our exhibits are always changing some of the animals on this list may not be on exhibit when you come to the Zoo. 

As you walk our pathways there are three very important things that the Zoo wants you to know.  

(1) We provide excellent, expert, and compassionate care for our animals, prioritizing their welfare and well-being.
(2) We are actively saving wildlife from extinction through our conservation work at the zoo and in the field.
(3) We act and communicate with the purpose of inspiring people to value wild animals and to take action and responsibility to ensure their place in the wild.

To learn more about the Zoo visit our website at www.elpasozoo.org or search for more information online. Be our friend on Facebook at facebook.com/elpasozoo.

Africa

As you enter the Zoo through the Front Gate walk past the El Paso Zoological Society Office on your right and the Safari Outfitters Gift Shop on your left.  Most people begin their visit by walking to the Africa exhibit area and turning left just past the train station.  Straight ahead as you cross the train track is the African lion exhibit.    After viewing the lions from the first of three major viewing areas, keep walking past the large white Event Tent on the right.   Soon you will enter a wooden walkway. Watch for the following animals as you explore Africa and imagine that you and your family are on a safari.

( ) Red River Hog
On the left watch for our Red River hogs. These hogs are adeptly named for their reddish brown coloring. They are one of the more colorful members of the pig family. If you look closely, you can find the shape of Africa in the form of a spot on one of our hogs. MORE

Across the way from the Red River hog enclosure is our Lower Savannah exhibit where you can find waterfowl and zebras.

( ) Spur-winged Goose
Africa is home to the world’s largest goose! The Spur-winged Goose can get up to 45 inches tall and can weigh up to 22 pounds. Find them in our zebra enclosure along with other birds.

( ) Cape Teal
Although not endangered, the Cape Teal is potentially threatened by habitat loss through wetland destruction and degradation, as well as disturbances from tourism. Watch for them on both sides of the boardwalk.

( ) Grant’s Zebra
A zebra’s stripes are much like our finger prints, no two zebras are the same.  Wildlife biologists believe that the combined stripes of a herd of zebras help to protect them from predators.  When they are running away from an attacking lion the movement of so many stripes makes it more difficult for the lion to focus on any one animal.  

( ) Reticulated Giraffe
The reticulated giraffe is the world’s tallest mammal! Looming up to 19 feet tall and weighing up to 3000 pounds, the mighty giraffe…. isn’t all that mighty. Giraffes are actually very peaceful until threatened. MORE

( ) Greater Kudu
In the upper savanna you can find two of our resident kudu. Both are female! Greater kudu prefer thick, brushy areas where their colors and markings help them to be well camouflaged from predators as they feed on the leaves and shoots of low growing woody trees and shrubs.

Across the way from the Giraffe exhibit, next to our Kalahari Research station you can find two of our smaller friends, the radiated tortoise and the meerkat.

( ) Radiated Tortoise
The radiated tortoise is critically endangered due to habitat loss, the pet trade, and poaching for meat. Just like the addax, the radiated tortoises are also part of our Species Survival Plan.  MORE

( ) Meerkat
Did you know that a group of meerkats is called a gang/mob? We have a mob of four meerkats! If you look closely you’ll see each meerkat has its own role in their group. Try to find the lookout of the group!

Further down, you will run into one of the most efficient predators out in Africa! Do you know who it is? Hint: It’s not the African lion, think smaller.

( ) Painted Dog
If you guessed painted dogs as one of the most efficient predators out in Africa, you are correct! These canids hunt in groups and have an 85 percent success rate, whereas the lion is at about a 30 percent success rate when hunting in a group. Unfortunately the painted dog is endangered with less than 1500 individuals. They have been eliminated over most of Africa due to habitat fragmentation, infectious diseases, road accidents, and conflicts with livestock and game farmers.

( ) African Lion
And lastly, in our African section of the Zoo we can find one of the most well-known apex predators, the African lion! With three viewing windows in their exhibit, you can enjoy our lions at every angle! The lion is listed as vulnerable with less than 20,000 individuals left. The African lion is part of the Species Survival Program at the El Paso Zoo.

After viewing the Africa area of the Zoo look for the walkway on the left as you cross the train tracks. Continue on your left. If you need a restroom you will find them back on the walkway to the front gate and on your right pass the gift shop. There is also a restroom on the walkway next to the Passport Cafe. To continue your visit to the Zoo head for the Americas area by crossing the bridge over the Franklin Canal. The Wildlife Amphitheater is on your right.


Wildlife Amphitheater

We are planning to offer animal encounters in the Wildlife Amphitheater. During your visit you can visit the theater and take a break while watching zoo videos on the big screen.

Americas

After crossing the Franklin Canal from Africa, you will see the new Chihuahuan Desert Exhibit on the left. The Chihuahuan Desert experience highlights the flora and fauna of the region. As you walk down the arroyo and into the exhibit you will see Big Cat Mountain straight ahead. Turn left and walk towards the Prairie Dog Exhibit.

( ) Prairie Dogs
These highly social animals live in large groups called, “towns,” which can have between 15-26 family groups. Prairie dogs are a keystone species in their environment as their burrows provide homes for many animals such as snakes and burrowing owls, and they are a main food source for many predators.

On the right you can see our grassland area.   We will include these animals later on.   As you walk past the Flash Flood Area watch for our Thick-billed Parrots and Mexican wolves.

( ) Thick-billed Parrot
Thick-billed Parrots love to eat seeds and use their bills to crack open very tough ones. They are adapted to the colder climates of the Chihuahuan Desert and use old woodpecker holes to nest. Parrots can be very noisy and were hunted because they were easy to find.
SEE THEM IN THE WILD

( ) Mexican wolf
Historically, Mexican wolves were distributed across portions of the southwestern United States and northern and central Mexico. In the United States, this range included eastern, central, and southern Arizona; southern New Mexico; and western Texas.  Prior to the extinction of Canis lupus baileyi in the wild, the last confirmed sightings of Mexican wolves in the United States were in 1970 when two wolves were trapped and killed in West Texas. HELP RETURN THE WOLF TO TEXAS

As you walk past the Mexican Wolf Exhibit on your left you look for our Small Mix Exhibit.
At this time watch for the following species.

( ) Burrowing Owl
At the Zoo we have two Burrowing Owls. These owls are capable of digging small burrows, but prefer to live in abandoned burrows made by other animals such as prairie dogs, squirrels and desert tortoises. They are very efficient in making sure they always have a food supply and like a squirrel with stow away food. One family of owls had as many as 200 dead rodents in their burrow to ensure there would be enough food as they incubated their eggs and their young were born. SEE THEM IN THE WILDMORE

( ) Western Screech Owl
Screech owls are night hunters and have very excellent sight and hearing. They help to control rodent and insect populations. SEE ONE IN THE WILD

( ) Gambel’s Quail
El Paso’s desert scrub habitat is home to two species of quail, the Scaled Quail and the Gambel’s Quail.  The teardrop-shaped head plume is very distinctive.   Commonly seen in many areas of El Paso near water including Franklin Mountains State Park and Westside Community Park. SEE ONE IN THE WILD

( ) Texas Tortoise
The Texas tortoise is the only species of wild tortoise found in Texas. It is a protected species and was the inspiration for the El Paso Zoo Reptile House. SEE ONE IN THE WILD

Big Cat Mountain is on the right.  Here you will see our jaguars.   On the left you can see our Mountain lions.

( ) Jaguar
The last jaguars in the United States were killed off during the early 20th Century.  Thanks to a population that has survived in Mexico, the species is now trying to return on its own by crossing the US-Mexico border and moving into former habitats. SEE ONE IN THE WILD. MORE INFO

( ) Mountain lion
Mountain lions are also known as cougars and pumas. They are the second heaviest wild cat after the jaguar in the Americas. Their claws are one of the strongest of all cats and they can jump 20 to 40 feet high. SEE ONE IN THE WILD

After seeing our big cats and walking across the bridge towards the Ranch House watch for our collared peccaries on the left and peninsular pronghorns and bolson tortoises on the right.  

( ) Collared Peccary
Collared peccaries, locally known as javelinas, have a collar of white or yellowish fur around their neck. They have sharp canine teeth, called tusks, that protrude from their jaws that they use to protect themselves against predators. Collared peccaries have poor eyesight and rely heavily on their sense of hearing and utilize a wide range of communication sounds such as barking, grunting, and even purring. SEE THEM IN THE WILD

( ) Peninsular Pronghorn
Right behind the cheetah, peninsular pronghorns are the world’s fastest hoofed mammal with the ability to keep their speed of 40-60mph for more than an hour. Both male and female pronghorns have horns, but males horns are longer, curve backwards, and shed after mating season. MORE

( ) Bolson Tortoise
Long before the coming of the first European explorers to North America, bolson tortoises are believed to have lived in the El Paso region during the Pleistocene Epoch that lasted from 1.65 million to 10,000 years ago. Today bolson tortoises survive mainly in one small area of northern Mexico near Torreón, Coahuila called the Bolsón de Mapimí.  SEE ONE IN THE WILD

Ranch House Exhibit

Indoors

( ) Black Widow Spider
( ) Desert blond tarantula
( ) Desert hairy scorpion
( ) Great plains skink


Outdoor Area

( ) American Kestrel
( ) Montezuma Quail
( ) Coati


After visiting the Chihuahuan Desert turn left. To the east you can see the entrance to the Asia area of the Zoo. To the right you can walk towards the south where you can see the Hunt Family Spring. Beyond the Spring you will be able to see an American alligator, spider monkeys, the Reptile House, Galapagos tortoise and ocelot.

( ) American Alligator
The American alligator is a conservation success story.  At one time the species was threatened with extinction, but now thanks to habitat protection and controlled hunting, over a million alligators are estimated to be living in the wilds of the Southeastern U.S.  

( ) Spider Monkey
Directly across from these three exhibits is Spider Monkey Island.  During the rainy season we often find breeding Woodhouse’s toads making calls and laying eggs in the moat.

( ) Galapagos Tortoise
The world’s largest tortoise! Like most reptiles they will spend much of their day soaking in the sun to warm their bodies. Their endangered status resulted from introduction of non-native animals on the Galapagos Islands that competed for food and ate hatchling eggs.

Reptile House

Reptile exhibit (shaped like a Texas tortoise) is built as part of the Zoo’s Quality of Life Bond project. Enter the exhibit through the head of the tortoise and walk around the three sides turning right as you enter to view all the different reptiles and amphibians that call the Americas their home.  More information on each species can be found on our interpretive graphics.

( ) Gila monster
( ) Mexican beaded lizard
( ) Mojave Sidewinder
( ) Western Diamondback Rattlesnake
( ) Taylor’s Cantil
( ) Green Crested Basilisk
( ) Giant Anoles
( ) Painted Wood Turtle
( ) Green Crested Basilisk

( ) Coahuilan Box Turtle – look carefully for these endangered turtles in the large out door pond. They are from the Chihuahuan Desert in the state of Coahuila Mexico. MORE.

Frogs, toads, and other amphibians help people by controlling insects and because they need clean water and air to be healthy, just like us, their presence is a good sign of a healthy planet. Since 1980 over 120 species have gone extinct mainly from habitat loss. Do your part by getting involved in helping to protect habitat here in El Paso by supporting local conservation organizations. The amphibians will “toadally” appreciate it.

( ) Basilisk
( ) Blue Poison Dart Frog
( ) Green and Black Poison Dart Frog
( ) Mission Golden-eyed Tree Frog
( ) San Esteban Chuckwalla
( ) Guantanamo Anole
( ) Aruba Island Rattlesnake
( ) Puerto Rican Crested Toad
( ) Blue Island Iguana

One Source Federal Credit Union Reptile Presentation Area – across the way see the Ocelot Exhibit

( ) Ocelot
In the Rio Grande Valley of south Texas the ocelot’s habitat has been fragmented by big highways and other developments. The El Paso Zoo supports ocelot conservation project in Brazil designed to maintain the genetic diversity of ocelots living in zoos. Last year two baby ocelots were born at the Zoo.

( ) Smokey Jungle Frog
( ) Mata Mata
( ) Canyon Tree Frog
( ) Black-spotted Newt
( ) Woodhouse’s Toad
( ) Mexican Milksnake
( ) Uracoan Rattlesnake
( ) Eastern Collared Lizard
( ) Grey- Banded Kingsnakeread our blog to learn more
( ) Rosy Boa
( ) Southern Ridgenose Rattlesnake

After completing your visit to the Reptile House head back towards the Hunt Family Spring and look for the entrance to Asia on your right.

Asia

On your way in or out of this area to the right of the west end of Asia Discovery Center you can visit our Hummingbird Garden.  You might be lucky to see some of the wild hummingbirds that live at the zoo.  Two species that have been seen here include the Black-chinned Hummingbird and Rufous Hummingbird.

As you enter this area walk to the right and cross the walking bridge adjacent to the elephant exhibit.

( ) Asian Elephant
Asian elephants are listed as endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. They are threatened due to human activities such as the slashing and burning of the rainforest for logging and palm oil plantations. When looking at our elephants you might see some cardboard. Asian elephants naturally consume tree bark in the wild and cardboard is made directly from trees.

( ) Sumatran Orangutan
Just across from the elephant presentation yard to the left, you’ll see the orangutan exhibit. If you look closely you’ll notice that the arm span and finger length of the orangutans is much longer than that of humans. Good eye! That’s because orangutans are an arboreal species and will spend upwards of 90 percent of their life up in trees.

Adjacent to the elephant training yard and across from the orangutan, you’ll find a variety of waterfowl living with our tapirs in the moat that surrounds Siamang Isle. 

Tapir Exhibit

( ) Malayan Tapir
The tapir may look odd with its trunk-like nose and its striking black and white color, but after dark in the Asian jungle it blends in rather well. MORE

( ) Cattle Egret
A member of the Heron family, the Cattle Egret feeds on a wide variety of insects, frogs, spiders and earthworms. 

( ) Siamang
Siamang Isle is our next stop. If you get a chance to see our siamangs walk you’ll notice that they raise their arms over their head. This is normal! Siamangs cannot swim and avoid the the water. They are arboreal and, just like orangutans, have well defined arms and hands. They lack leg strength and compensate for this by balancing with their arms over their heads!

( ) Amur Leopard
Hidden in the forest glade nestled along the curve on the left side of the path, you’ll find the beautiful, yet critically endangered, Amur leopard. The Amur leopard is the rarest large animal at the Zoo. It is named for the Amur River that forms much of the border between China and Russia. Habitat destruction from the local demand for wood and the loss of prey species from over hunting has caused the decline in their population. Five cubs have been born here since 2001. Only through managed breeding programs like this and conservation action will this beautiful predator survive. Amur leopards inhabit a small area of forest in Southeast Russia along the border with China and Korea.

( ) Lion-tailed Macaque
As you continue past the siamang exhibit down the path towards the Asian Forest Complex stop to admire the lion-tailed macaques on your right. Groups of lion-tailed macaques are referred to as troops! Each troop is led by a dominant male who communicates through several vocalizations such as barks, screams, and squawks.

At this point walk back the way you came and turn right as you cross the bridge

( ) Malayan Sun bear
The sun bear is the smallest bear species! They can reach up to 5 feet tall and weigh up to 150 pounds. Our bear, Heliana, is smaller and is often referred to as a baby, but she’s actually a full grown adult! If you look below her head you will see what is called her sun crest. Sun bears are thought to be named as such because of this bright patch of fur. MORE

( ) Malayan Tiger
Tigers are endangered across Asia where the total population size is estimated to be below 4000 mature breeding individuals. Tigers may soon go extinct if current conservation efforts cannot successfully protect their remaining habitats and stop poachers from killing them. Our Malayan tigers can be seen from several different angles, so take advantage of the perspective offered by each viewing window. MORE

Across the path from the tiger and sun bear exhibits, the Asian Grasslands exhibit awaits you.

( ) Przewalski’s Wild Horse
Przewalski’s horses are thought to be the last true wild species of horse. Unfortunately, they are critically endangered. Not all news is bad however, we welcomed a female foal into our Przewalski family in April of 2018!

( )Mandarin Duck
“One of the easiest water fowl to spot, the male mandarin duck boasts an elaborate plumage consisting of greens, oranges, purples, blues with white and black accents. Just like the peacock pheasant however, the females are generally muted with gray and brown tones. Closely related to the Wood Duck in North America, the wild population of this tree roosting species has declined with the destruction of forest habitat in Asia. 

( ) Hooded Crane
Cranes communicate with each other by engaging in elaborate and enthusiastic dancing!

( ) White-winged duck
To help save endangered birds, Birdlife International (birdlife.org) has launched a “Preventing Extinctions Program” engaging a global network of independent nature conservation organizations operating in more than 100 countries.  


You did it! How many animals did you find? 

Animals enjoy moving around in their exhibits, but they also need to rest sometimes, so if you did not find all of them, don’t worry about it. We hope you enjoyed learning about the animals we have here at the zoo, as well as what you can do to help us conserve them. After all, the more we work together to learn about animals and their habitats today, the more we can help them tomorrow.  To learn more follow our new conservation education blog. All you need to do is visit our Conservation Education blog and enter your email address in the “follow link” at the bottom of your screen on your phone or at the bottom of the page on your computer. We also are looking for people to join our team to help us share our conservation messages on social media and more. Learn more here.

You can help us save endangered species around the world

Here are four easy ways you can help the El Paso Zoo save endangered species around the world.

  1. Round-Up your purchases. Many of our conservation projects receive nearly 100% of the funding we need from the Zoo’s Round-Up Fund.
  2. Join the El Paso Zoological Society. The Zoological Society is the number one friends group supporting the El Paso Zoo and all of its programs.
  3. Join our Conservation Education Team and help spread the word about our conservation efforts.
  4. Encourage your family and friends to visit the Zoo. Entrance fees help us purchase food for our animals and more.

FEEDBACK – To offer comments and suggestions regarding this Walking Tour contact the Education Curator at 915-212-2823 or email lobellorl@elpasotexas.gov

BIODIVERSITY AT THE ZOO

Animals at the Zoo make up a very small part of the world’s biodiversity.  Biodiversity is defined as the variety of plant and animal life in the world or in a particular habitat.  The protection of the world’s biodiversity is crucial to the quality of life and even to the survival of humankind.  The past few hundred years of increasing human population growth and economic development have altered the natural habitats of most of the temperate world in the United States, Europe, Russia and China.  Now the focus of human encroachment has shifted to tropical regions including the regions where many of the Zoo’s animals are from. 

Everyone who cares about the future of our world needs to become active in helping to protect our planet’s biodiversity.  Biodiversity is important to us because:

1. Biodiversity is very valuable economically.  The planet’s biosphere has been valued at $33 Trillion annually, twice the entire global economy.
2. Biodiversity is a safety net, buffering us from natural shocks.  For example, the world’s forests hold 1,146 billion tons of carbon dioxide, nearly as much contained in the atmosphere, which if realized would severely disrupt global climate.
3. Biodiversity represents the world’s greatest medicine cabinet and chemical laboratory rolled into one.  More than 40% of all the medicines sold in the US are derived directly from animals and plants.
4. The moral and spiritual value of biodiversity is enormous, originating from what E.O. Wilson called our love of life – biphila – and permeating all world cultures and religions.  Source: Wilderness: Earth’s Last Wild Places, University of Chicago Press, 2003