Houston Zoo's mission to save endangered species

This week, the White House announced the broadest changes to the Endangered Species Act in decades.

The Houston Zoo's Jackie Wallace was on Houston’s Morning Show with an alligator whose species was saved from extinction by the original act.

“In the '60s, the American alligator was almost extinct. There were only a few left. They were put on the endanger the species list," Wallace says. "Thanks to that act and the protections that were given because of that, by the '80s, they were so abundant, that they were removed. Now, as Texans we see guys like this all over.”

Wallace says they do not yet know how these changes will affect the species like the alligator or some of the other endangered species that are at the zoo.

“We're still looking into all of that,” she says. “The Houston Zoo, our mission is to connect communities with animals to inspire actions to save wildlife. We could use all the help we can get. Come visit the zoo. See the animals and take action to save them. One of the actions is this Endangered Species Act. Learn what you can about it and what that does to help save animals in the wild.”

As for a timeline of when they could learn what will happen and how this could affect the Houston Zoo, Wallace says right now they are OK.

“Right now, we're all good. The animals under our care will remain under our care. We do have quite a bit of endangered species at the zoo. You can come learn about them in our new Texas Wetlands. We have three large alligators there, “Snap”, “Crackle” and “Pop”, who are about seven years old. Two whooping cranes. And the whooping crane is also an amazing story of survival thanks to the Endangered Species Act. At one point, there were 20 of them living. Now, up to 400.”

Wallace says these species all need different habits to thrive.

“They all have different lives they need. But the alligator lives in the Texas Wetlands, which is where we are now," she says.

“So actually one of the reasons alligators are so important to our wetlands system is because they dig out these little holes with their tails, especially the larger ones,” Lisa Cariello says. “When they're done using it for themselves, they leave the large hole there and they act as a keystone species for plenty of other species in their environment. So they are actually really, really good for not just themselves, but lots of other animals.”