Say 'so long' to free admission on First Tuesdays during the summer: The Houston Zoo has altered its admission policies through July and August in light of recent safety concerns.
The Zoo initially implemented the program for free admission the first Tuesday of every month, from 2 p.m. to closing time, in September 2010. The program, which will continue unchanged from September through May, greatly overburdens the area's infrastructure during the summertime — as was messily proved on June 5.
"Approximately 12,000 people came to the Houston Zoo in a three hour period that afternoon," Houston Zoo president and CEO Deborah Cannon said in a statement.
"Approximately 12,000 people came to the Houston Zoo in a three hour period that afternoon," said Deborah Cannon.
Those visitors packed the roadway around Hermann Park and the Texas Medical Center, causing massive congestion and blocking emergency vehicles from entrance to two nearby trauma centers — Ben Taub and Memorial Hermann.
"In 2011, 29,900 people attended the Zoo's Free First Tuesday afternoons (2 p.m. to closing) between September and May," Brian Hill, Houston Zoo's director of public affairs, wrote in an email.
On June 5, the Houston Zoo saw 40 percent of that total for nine months of Free Tuesdays in three hours.
"The Houston Zoo has worked diligently to identify opportunities for free and discounted admissions. However, in doing so we cannot adversely impact public safety. We must be a good neighbor to the Houston Parks and Recreation Department and to the Texas Medical Center," Cannon said.
Hill assured CultureMap that this suspension of First Tuesdays for the remainder of the summer does not change the existing free and/or discounted admission opportunities for field trips, nor does it affect the First Tuesdays program over the rest of the year.