The celebration starts at 10 a.m. Saturday, with the free rides offered all day long. The carousel is located at the entrance to the John P. McGovern Children’s Zoo.
The restoration project began in September and involved about 80 gallons of paint to touch-up the 84 animals to their original wild glory.
The restoration project, sponsored by Texas Direct Auto, began in September and involved about 80 gallons of paint to touch-up the 84 animals to their original wild glory. The ride again shines as a work of art, hand carved and now, freshly repainted.
“We hope our sponsorship of this iconic spot for families at the Houston Zoo sparks children’s curiosity for the animals that grace the carousel, and that they then join the zoo to take action to protect those animals in the wild,” Mike Welch, co-owner of Texas Direct Auto with Rick Williams, said in a statement.
The Wildlife Carousel opened in May 2004 to the delight of zoo officials, members and the general public. Built by The Carousel Works Inc., a Ohio-based company specializing in the design and construction of merry-go-rounds with hand-carved wooden figures, the carousel is unique to the Houston Zoo. Many of the exotic animals represented on the ride can be found in the zoo, such as the Okapi, bongo, babirusa and giant eland. In addition, creatures special to Texas are present as well, including armadillos.
A portion of the proceeds from the carousel helps fund the zoo’s ongoing conservation efforts.
"We are so proud of this new and exciting partnership with Texas Direct Auto," David Brady, Houston Zoo chief marketing officer and vice president of advancement, said in a statement. "While this is a very public expression of their support of the Houston Zoo, Texas Direct Auto has long been supporting Houston Zoo conservation projects both here in Texas and around the world."
Here are a few fun facts about The Wildlife Carousel:
- In 2013, more than 300,000 people rode the carousel
- On a typical summer Saturday, the carousel goes around an estimated 750 times
- More than 30 percent of the visitors that come through the zoo gates ride the carousel
- The armadillos on The Wildlife Carousel are the only armadillos known to exist as carousel figures