Valley students can visit the Gladys Porter Zoo in Brownsville for free this summer

Associate Curator of Reptiles Ashley Ortega lures Houston, a Galápagos tortoise, over to her birthday "cake" Saturday, July 15, 2023, at the tortoise’s 100th birthday celebration at the Gladys Porter Zoo. (Denise Cathey/The Brownsville Herald)
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Looking for something fun to do with the kids this summer?

Gladys Porter Zoo in Brownsville has just the ticket: free summer passes for all students between Pre-K and sixth grade in the Region One Education Service Center, which consists of Brooks, Cameron, Hidalgo, Jim Hogg, Starr, Webb, Willacy and Zapata counties.

The passes are available to students in public, charter and private schools, according to a news release from the city of Brownsville.

The passes are valid for one-time use between June 1 and Aug. 31.

“Up to four children, each with a pass, can visit the Zoo with one paying adult,” the release stated. “In 2023, over 10,000 children redeemed their summer passes. The Zoo hopes that students will once again take advantage of this opportunity to visit the Zoo with their families.”

The program has allowed children to visit the zoo for free since 1978 with the aim to bolster the zoo’s continued commitment to education, according to the release.

The zoo’s education curator, Sergio Garcia, said he hopes the zoo can be part of the summer experience for children in the Valley and beyond.

“I still remember the teacher’s question after summer break: ‘What did you do this summer?’ We want every child to have the opportunity to visit us and have the Zoo be part of their summer experience,” Garcia said in the release.

Zoo attendees walk around Gladys Porter Zoo Tuesday, May 17, 2022, in Brownsville. (Miguel Roberts/The Brownsville Herald)

Children will have the opportunity to see new baby meerkats. There is a Lesser Sunda Islands pit viper that’s now on exhibit.

“This rare blue viper is unlike any snake you’ve seen before,” the release stated.

There’s also the limited time only experience of DINO FURY, an animatronic dinosaur exhibit that is on display through July 7.

“On Saturdays and Sundays, guests have the opportunity to feed some gentle giants at the Giraffe Landing Feeding Experience or the Galapagos Tortoise Feeding Post for a small fee of $3.00,” the release stated.

Parents who want to know when they can receive their child’s pass should reach out to their school or district’s main office, according to the release.