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Gladys Porter Zoo a botanical and zoological park was officially opened for the public on September 3, 1971. The zoo is an abode for around 400 different species of animal 47 endangered species included. It also houses more than 250 species and subspecies of tropical and neo-tropical creatures in the animal kingdom. Gladys Porter, from whom the zoo was named, is the daughter of Earl C. Sams, the former president of the famous JCPenney. Earl C. Sams Foundation funded the stocking and the planning of the zoo thru Porter, a conservation and wildlife enthusiast. Upon the zoo?s opening, the zoo was donated to the city of Brownsville.

In 1978 its summer study program was launched ? with pupils in grades 1 to 12 on a trial basis. It started with only four classes and has expanded since. Classes are taught during summer fall and spring at the present. In this regard the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) presented them the coveted accreditation in 1978. 375,000 local and foreign tourists visit the zoo annually. The zoo is one educational and recreational facility to visit.
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