Latino Conservation Week is an initiative that began in 2014 by the Hispanic Access Foundation (HAF). This year, the week is celebrated from July 13 to the 21. The goal of the week: "Disfrutando y conservando nuestra tierra," which translates to enjoying and conserving our lands.

The week was created to support the Latino community getting into the outdoors and participating in activities to protect our natural resources. During the week, community organizations hold events and activities that provide an opportunity for Latinos to show their support for the conservation of wildlife.

This goal aligns directly with our mission at Lee Richardson Zoo, which is: Lee Richardson Zoo connects people with wildlife, inspiring appreciation and understanding of the natural world through conservation, education, and engaging experiences. To engage our Latino guests, we are hosting bilingual keeper chats throughout this week, Monday through Friday at 2:30 at the rhino habitat.

The chats are given by Lead Keeper Pablo Holguin who can speak with guests in both Spanish and English about the animals in his care including the importance of wildlife conservation.

Have you ever wanted to know how much a rhino weighs or how much they eat? How fast they can run? What about what kind of experience you need to be employed at the zoo?

Keeper chats are an excellent way for zoo guests to learn more about the animals at Lee Richardson Zoo and speak one-on-one with animal care staff about their jobs. Everyone is invited to take part in these chats whether you are a person of Latin American descent or not.

Latin America includes Hispanic America and is predominantly a group of countries who share a history of being colonized by Spain, Portugal, and other European countries where Spanish, Portuguese, and French languages are dominant. This group includes Mexico, most of Central and South America, the Caribbean, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, and Puerto Rico. The wildlife in this area of our planet is as diverse as the people sharing their habitats.

From deserts to rainforests, these animals are uniquely adapted to their native habitats. A portion of our zoo is known as the South American Pampas and includes such species as Chilean flamingo, maned wolf, alpaca, Patagonian cavy, and giant anteater! Visit the Marie Osterbuhr Aviary to catch a glimpse of species native to Central and South America including the scarlet ibis, roadrunners, as well as the basilisk lizard, just to name a few.

Whether it’s enjoying a bilingual keeper chat at 2:30 at the rhino habitat or taking a stroll through the South American Pampas and aviary, all are invited to join us in celebrating Latino Conservation Week this week at the zoo! For more information, contact the zoo at 620-276-1250 or email us at


Emily Sexson is the conservation education manager at the zoo.