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SUSTAINABILITY

(Zoos Go Green)


Zoos want to do the right thing for the environment. By embracing sustainable practices in their every day operations, they can be convenient, fun, inexpensive, and make you feel good. For zoo educators, these actions can be shared with visitors as messages of how zoos are “walking the talk” for sustainable living.

Zoos can live up to this “green” responsibility by substantially reducing their environmental footprint in the areas of waste, carbon emissions and energy consumption. Each and every employee can be part of this endeavor and can inspire others to take action. Together, zoos’ collective efforts can make a big difference!

At the 2008 IZE Conference, educators shared “green” ideas from their zoos. Here is what they said. Maybe an idea below will spark your interest and take-off at your facility.

Zoos Victoria, Australia

Assign a sustainability officer at each zoo whose job it is to work on policies for the zoo and action ideas for guests. He/she is able to research options and offer the best solution to challenges that arise.

Retail departments should ensure that products and packaging are earth-friendly and create the least impact possible. They also need to be mindful of the amount of trash generated.

Paignton Zoo, UK

Offer “fair trade” items as souvenirs. Five years ago, these products accounted for about 5% of sales, today it’s 20% of sales. Green products are not only the right thing to do, but also support consumer trends.

Work with your restaurants to ensure food items do not contain palm oil and that suppliers understand that you will not buy non-sustainable items.

Busch Gardens, U.S.

Focus one gift shop on environmentally friendly products. Develop a staff training lesson that presents information about the products and their level of sustainability. Have the education team train this lesson to the retail staff so that they can be knowledgeable when speaking to visitors about these environmentally-sound products.

When there is a story behind the items, visitors purchase them more frequently.

Rotterdam Zoo, The Netherlands

Create a “Green Team,” that is composed of members from all areas of the zoo. Develop a list of green actions with input from all zoo areas and prioritize them.

This team works on completing the list of desired items/action steps. This team has already installed solar panels and wants to build a windmill. Having a wish list of green ideas allows the zoo to purchase items when the budget allows.

Kadoorie Farm and Botanical Gardens, Hong Kong

A sustainability officer determines energy and water use through audits. Ideas for reduction are suggested and implemented. Energy/water audits measure any change in energy consumption.

Install solar energy panels and tell visitors about them through a display that depicts how much energy is generated.

Use recycled paper and always print double-sided.

Use zoo mules to transport items around the zoo.

Zoos South Australia, Australia

Each zoo has its own “Green Team,” which monitors water, energy, and transportation/vehicle use.

The zoos participate in carbon offsetting for their vehicle use and are eliminating old buses.

Currently, older buildings are being retrofitted with systems for water storage.

New buildings are built to green standards, so no retrofitting is necessary.

Taronga Zoo

The car parking lot is currently under construction, so nearby parking is limited and can only be utilized if you carpool.

Oregon Zoo

Staff are only allowed to park their car 4 days/week. The other day carpooling or biking is encouraged.

European Zoos

Some zoos are re-examining their zoo master plans and eliminating tropical houses because of the enormous cost to heat and cool.

South African Zoos

Voluntary programs for environmental sustainability accreditation. These programs include which products are bought, their business partners, transportation system, energy management system, and visitor education.

Source: International Zoo Educators Association (www.izea.net) Check on their website and see how you can participate in this.

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