Going green at the Zoo

As a conservation organization, the Zoo is saving species by inspiring guests to take action on behalf of animals. But we’re working to conserve more than just the animal species in our care: every day, nearly every part of the Zoo participates in small but important sustainability practices that save energy, reduce waste, and help maintain a greener environment.

Photo by Kelli O'Brien

Animal care staff participates in the Zoo’s efforts to move toward more sustainable practices by composting leftover produce in addition to animal manure. The rich compost is then used on grounds to nourish plants and flowers throughout the Zoo!

Photo by Sue Rea

Photo by Sue Rea

Any paper, cardboard, metal, or plastic that is left over from deliveries of food or other animal care necessities is recycled. One of the companies that is always delivering things to the Zoo, B. Gimabrone & Co. Produce, reuses the boxes in which it packages bananas. Many of the animals at the Zoo receive browse, or branches and leaves, which is sourced from nearby Seneca Park and surrounding areas.

Everyday items can be reused to create enrichment for the animals, allowing them to use their minds and bodies to stay mentally and physically healthy.  These objects can be boxes, blankets, barrels, and more. Staff also uses reusable plastic bucket lids in the place of plastic bags.

Photo by Kelli O'Brien

Photo by Kelli O’Brien

In the Animal Hospital, staff reuses and repurposes hard plastic disposables such as syringes and syringe caps. They also reuse fluid bags as heating pads for animals. When they need to dispose of supplies, they find ways to do so responsibly if reuse is not an option.

To help cut down on waste, our facilities staff uses green cleaning products and reuses towels instead of paper towels for cleaning. The staff that manages electric and water power at the Zoo recycles UV light bulbs and repairs equipment instead of replacing it whenever possible.

There are lots of ways to help with the Zoo’s sustainability efforts as a guest at the Zoo.

The Programming and Conservation Action department of the Seneca Park Zoo Society collects light bulbs and toner cartridges for recycling. Next time you visit, bring these items to the Education Center and they will be recycled for you!

Elephant-(north)Use the bottle and can recycling bins around the Zoo to deposit any empty bottles as you explore. Better yet, bring your own reusable water bottle and fill it up at a water fountain when you visit!

Having a snack during your visit? At the Eagle’s Landing Café and Crater Canteen, hamburgers, hot dogs, and sausages are sourced from locally-owned distributers Palmers and Zweigles. All food containers and plateware are 100% compostable, while cutlery is biodegradable. Food service is moving to compostable straws and lids as well.

eagles-landing

Photo by Kelli O’Brien

IMG_5836When you stop by the ZooShop for a souvenir of your day, ask to add a reusable bag in your purchase so you can carry your items home and use it again. On Earth Day, the ZooShop will aim not to use any paper bags.

If you’re coming to the Zoo for a Birthday Party soon, you’ll be attending a Zero Waste event. In the coming months, our parties are transitioning to using only compostable and recyclable party plates and non-petroleum-based bioplastic cups and cutlery. Already, we have significantly reduced our use of plastic party souvenirs and continue to look for sustainable and fun options for other take-home items. Our hosts share information about reducing the amount of refuse that goes into the landfill, and in the future we hope to compost as well as recycle our party waste.

Learn more about how your Zoo and other local organizations are working to protect the planet at Earth Day at the Zoo on Saturday, April 22, and discover what you can do to live more sustainably to help save animals from extinction.