Hoffman's Houston
celebrity closure

Ken Hoffman scolds Houston Zoo for this controversial mega-celebrity carousel closure

Hoffman scolds Houston Zoo for a controversial mega-celebrity closure

Houston Zoo carousel
The carousel was briefly closed to locals for the visiting celebs. Photo courtesy of Houston Zoo

Sunday, September 19 was one of the sunniest, most comfortable days of summer in Houston — a perfect day to visit the Houston Zoo. No surprise our zoo was packed with people — especially parents and children who had fun looking at the animals, riding the famous carousel, eating popcorn and peanuts, and hot dogs.

A beautiful day at the Houston Zoo. We love it.

But something unusual happened Sunday – twice. Zoo officials closed the popular carousel ride for a half-hour each time. Why? Mechanical problem? No. Weather issue? No. Did someone puke all over the ride and cleaning crews were summoned? No.

The carousel was closed so Kylie Jenner, Houston-raised rapper Travis Scott, and their three-year-old daughter Stormi could ride the carousel in undisturbed, untouched privacy. TMZ has already covered the visit.

Houstonians had to wait so Kardashian TV family members could ride without having to get close to Houston kids and their admission-paying parents?

Unacceptable. The zoo owes a class-action apology to everybody who’s ever visited our – yes, our zoo.

It’d be bad enough, at least understandable, if the zoo closed an attraction briefly for a head of state or national hero. There might be legitimate security issues there.

But for a Kardashian descendent? No. Not that family. They’re proof that in America you can be wealthy and famous beyond imagination yet still worthless. I’ve never seen an episode of Keeping Up with the Kardashians or its 100 spinoffs, but I did watch a YouTube excerpt where Kim Kardashian got her butt X-rayed to prove it was real.

Kylie’s the one with the cosmetics, right?

A Houston Zoo spokesperson explained that the zoo typically clears areas and attractions for VIP guests. You know, the ol’ “We’ve always done it this way.”

Here is the Houston Zoo official statement:

Yesterday, the Houston Zoo closed the carousel two times for guests on a VIP Tour.

While we never like to close any part of the Zoo, sometimes security measures must be taken for everyone’s safety.

Easy solution: stop doing it that way – especially for “stars” of scripted, phony reality shows. What’s next, they close the Children’s Zoo because Honey Boo Boo wants to pet Lucy the Lamb? Will they shut down the snack bar because Chumlee from Pawn Stars wants a churro? Oh, no, all the Housewives of New Jersey are here! Close Hermann Park!

The thought of Houston children being told to wait while a Kardashian Kid rides the carousel is disgusting. You know the zoo is a public facility, a nonprofit run by the Houston Zoo Inc., right? Your donations are tax-deductible.

The Houston Zoo is one of the best things about our city. It attracts more than 2,000,000 guests a year, making it the second most-visited zoo in the U.S., behind only the San Diego Zoo. The Houston Zoo covers 55 acres and is home to 900 species of animals.

I’ve been to the Houston Zoo lots of times. Somewhere in my closet there’s a conductor’s hat from the Hermann Park train.

I once played tug-of-war with Lindy the Lion there. Our fight to the finish was arranged to highlight the zoo’s lion enrichment program, although I fail to see how engaging in a test of strength against me would enrich any animal, especially the king of the jungle.

Supposedly playing tug-of-war with humans is a lot of laughs for lions. I didn’t question it. I just pulled as hard as I could on the rope and lost. Turns out the lion wins every time. Lions have pride.

A few years ago, I was allowed to visit a newborn giraffe before the calf (that’s what you call baby giraffes) went on public display at the Houston Zoo. Giraffes are my favorite animal. They’re beautiful rim protectors. The week-old giraffe stood six feet tall and weighed 109 pounds. I brought a baby gift, a onesie with 42-inch sleeves. 

What did the two giraffes say when they walked into the bar?  "Hey everybody, the longnecks are on us!" (Giraffes are hilarious.)

If the zoo was so worried about Kylie Jenner and her daughter getting too close to common riffraff, or thought there might be a security problem, then the zoo could have invited them to visit an hour before opening or after closing.

The Houston Zoo doesn’t have to kiss anybody’s rear end – real or fake, famous or not - at the expense of regular Houstonians who pay the zoo’s bills.

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