Sustainability at the Zoo

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To Live Greener as an Organization we:

Compost organic waste to avoid causing the emission of climate-warming gasses in landfills.

When organic waste – like food and animal waste – goes into landfills, it generates carbon dioxide. At the Zoo, we compost much of our organic waste – more than 2,400 cubic yards per year. We use the resulting compost to fertilize plants at the Zoo. The compost-enriched soil provides nutrients that help plants grow, but the compost soil also helps reduce erosion, alleviate soil compaction, and control disease and pest infestation in plants. If we can’t use it here, we sell it to local businesses.

Recycle office materials, cell phones, batteries, cardboard, and water.

For the last seven years, we have encouraged visitors to drop off old and unused cell phones at the Zoo. The phones that are still usable are converted to 911-only use and donated to women’s shelters and other organizations in need. Unusable phones are stripped for their components, especially for Coltan, a metallic ore that is mined in the Congo where many gorilla habitats are now suffering.

Clean our facilities using green products.

Many common household cleaning products contain chemicals that can be harmful to the environment. Many surface cleaners contain alkylphenol ethoxylate, which negatively impacts the reproductive systems of animals that mate in polluted waters. The Zoo has replaced many cleaning product with environmentally-friendly ones that are just as effective.

Design our facilities with the environment in mind.

The more the Zoo grows, the greener we get. Our Water’s Edge facility, completed in 2006, includes innovative water-reclamation systems, energy-saving pumping tanks, and a green roof that insulates the building while reducing water runoff. At our elephant sanctuary in Somerset, we just added a biomass burner – that means that animal waste will heat the barn during the winter.

Educate our visitors.

The Zoo has created, and takes part in, numerous programs to encourage the public to help make the world a cleaner, greener place.

Our One Degree of Change program, a partnership with EQT, highlights how global warming impacts animals around the world and what you can do to help.

Seafood Watch partners with local businesses to educate the public about which seafood you should avoid due to overfishing or other damage to the ecosystems it comes from.

School groups come visit our Windows to the World classroom that has games and interactive exhibits focused on sustainability.

The pier at Water’s Edge has special exhibits along the boardwalk that demonstrate ways our visitors can reduce their carbon footprint.

We host a two-day event called Party for the Planet each April that invites thousands of school children and other visitors to participate in fun activities centered on the environment.