July 6, 2022



Here’s how to see the goats at the Houston Arboretum

2 min read

More than 100 goats will descend upon the Houston Arboretum and Nature Center next month for some good eating, the center announced Monday. 

The arboretum routinely brings in a herd of rented goats from Rent-a-Ruminant Texas to graze on portions of the preserve rather than hiring gas-guzzling mowers to landscape the area. Nearly 150 goats will be let loose in a 2.6-acre portion of the nature center to eat to their little hearts’ content between May 3 and 10. 

“We have been really happy with how these goats have performed in previous stints,” Houston Arboretum Executive Director Debbie Markey said. “This eco-friendly alternative to commercial mowing and herbicides is working.”

This year, the goats will be ushered toward thorny dewberry and small saplings that need to be eradicated from the meadow, Markey said. The public is invited to see—not touch—the goats in action while they’re in town. 

Goats graze at the Houston Arboretum and Nature Center in Houston.

Goats graze at the Houston Arboretum and Nature Center in Houston.

Jon Shapley, Houston Chronicle / Staff photographer

“This dovetails with our mission of education,” Markey said. “We are making nature fun and accessible to urban dwellers. Plus, they are really adorable.”

To see the goats, arboretum staff suggests drivers park at the 610 Parking Loop, where the grazing will take place, located along the northbound feeder of West Loop 610 just south of Woodway Drive. Parking is usually $5, but it is free on Thursdays and for members of the arboretum. 

Not only are the goats great for education and reducing the center’s carbon footprint, the animals are also part of a bigger objective to manage the lands at the arboretum naturally. Before human development, large grazers and wildfires would take care of grass and excess vegetation. Since the arboretum is surrounded by development, it’s up to staff there to figure out how to mimic those natural cycles. 

Goats are just one nature-led way to maintain the area’s health. The center also hosts prescribed burns to mimic wildfires in the area, which help rejuvenate the ground and allow more native plants and wildlife to thrive. 

To learn more, visit the Houston Arboretum website. 

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