Holiday Recycling With the Zoo

Holiday Recycling Tips & Guidelines

The holiday season can not only be a source of joy but also a large source of trash! In the months between November and February, Monroe County residents generate the highest amount of trash and recyclables of the year due to high consumerism. When we are shopping for, wrapping, and unwrapping gifts, we should be aware of what materials we are using and how we are disposing of our trash and recyclables. The more materials we recycle and dispose of correctly the less plastic and other pollutants end up in our green spaces and water ways.

The Seneca Park Zoo Society has been focused on removing trash from these areas with help from local volunteers with our Community Cleanup program. Since 2017, hundreds of volunteers have removed over 10,000 lbs. of trash from all over the Rochester area, not only removing the trash but reporting on what items are found to get a better understanding of what items are most impactful.

The first Community Cleanup of 2022 will be New Year’s Day at Turning Point Park. This will be a great chance to start the year off right and give back to our environment by helping to remove trash in a park that borders the Genesee River. Large groups and people of all ages are welcome!

If you would like to join us, stay tuned for more in 2022. Check out some of the recycling tips provided by Monroe County’s Department of Environmental Services for some great ways to improve your personal sustainability this holiday season. By working together we can all help to make Rochester a greener, cleaner place!

– Dave Will, Lead Zoo Naturalist for Citizen Science

Girl Scout builds owl houses for the Zoo

Girl Scout Ambassador, Leanne Walker, Troop 60779, has always had a passion for animals. Her love for animals led her to the Zoo, where she successfully completed her Gold Award, the highest award in Girl Scouts. David Hamilton, the Zoo’s General Curator, suggested several ideas and Leanne picked a project that was close to her heart: building barn owl houses to help the decreasing population.

2016-03-26 15.02.30Leanne researched and designed a house for the barn owls in hopes of bringing back the population to Western, NY.  So many old barns are being torn down and these birds don’t have the nesting places that they once used to have.

For her award, she had to put in 80 hours, as well as secure donations from area businesses to help with the cost of the materials and run the whole project from start to finish. Leanne, along with friends and family, built 10 owl houses that were installed at the Zoo, Monroe County’s Seneca Park and Wild Wings Inc.

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Leanne learned so much about the barn owls that she wanted to share her knowledge with the docents at the Zoo, so she developed a power point to be used at upcoming docent training sessions to further enrich their knowledge of barn owls.


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Thank you to Terry Kozakiewicz from Wild Wings Inc. for helping her to achieve this award as well as Home Depot-Gates, Ace Hardware-Chili and Martusciello’s Bakery for their generous donations.

Leanne will head to college in just a short time, majoring in biology, and hopes to one day become a veterinarian specializing in marine mammals and surgery. Congratulations Leanne, and thank you for supporting the Zoo!

This weekend: One Cubic Foot Street Team at the Public Market & Park Ave Fest

In August, the Seneca Park Zoo Society is partnering with photographer David Liittschwager and many local and regional organizations to assess the biodiversity and health of the Genesee River through an initiative called One Cubic Foot.

Photo courtesy of David Liittschwager
Photo courtesy of David Liittschwager

Once declared one of the United States’ most polluted rivers, the Genesee is making a comeback. By providing invaluable scientific information and baseline data regarding the plant and animal species now living the in the Genesee, One Cubic Foot heightens awareness of water quality and other environmental issues in the river.

David Liittschwager and his team will photograph every species that enters a one cubic foot frame placed in the river during the equivalent of a 24-hour period, creating individual portraits of the plant life and creatures that inhabit one tiny piece of the world.

Photo courtesy of David Liittschwager
Photo courtesy of David Liittschwager

The Zoo has gathered a group of energetic volunteers who are eager to spread the word about this important initiative to form a Street Team that informs the public about One Cubic Foot. This weekend, they will be out in full force at two of the Rochester community’s biggest attractions: the Rochester Public Market on Saturday, August 1 and Park Avenue Summer Art Fest Saturday, August 1 and Sunday, August 2.

Photo by Ceci Menchetti
Photo by Ceci Menchetti

The One Cubic Foot Street Team is easy to spot: they’ll be the ones near the giant neon-green cube! Stop by to say hello and learn more about this project and why it is so important to protect the biodiversity of the Genesee River.

And don’t miss all of the One Cubic Foot events happening throughout August as this exciting project gets underway. Join us for David Liittschwager’s lecture at the George Eastman House on August 20 and other engaging programs during open late Tuesdays on August 18 & 25.

Growing Native: adopting a highway and restoring habitat

In their Department of Transportation hardhats and fluorescent vests, members of the American Association of Zoo Keepers (AAZK) chapter of Seneca Park Zoo have been busy beautifying Bay Bridge overlook, adjacent to the highway sign “Seneca Park Zoo, ‘Grow Native’.” For the last decade, Zoo staff has picked up litter at the site and maintained a garden of wildflowers native to Upstate New York such as blue lupines, orange milkweed and yellow black-eyed Susans.

Zoo staff spreading compost mixed with native seeds near Route 104.

Our goal is to raise community awareness about the benefits of native gardening while cleaning litter from one of the most scenic meadows to be seen just before crossing above Irondequoit Bay.

Bags of trash, beer cans, styrofoam cups, dirty diapers and two suitcases... Adopt A Highway cleanup at our Grow Native Garden
Adopt A Highway cleanup at our Grow Native Garden: bags of trash, beer cans, Styrofoam cups, dirty diapers and two suitcases…

Native flowers do not require fertilizer, which damages our waterways with excessive phosphorous and nitrogen, causing algal blooms which pose wildlife, pet and human health risks. Native flowers also do not require additional water given their acclimation to our Upstate environment.

Native Garden
Native plants help restore habitat and don’t need to acclimate to our New York State temperatures.

Growing native flowers instead of exotic ornamentals will help displace and prevent aggressive, invasive plant species from harming habitat.

Not using fertilizer or additional water and displacing invasive plant species are all welcomed practices to protect our waterways and beautify our communities the “natural” way. Go native — grow native in your own yard!

— Blog by Dr. Jeff Wyatt, Director of Animal Health and Conservation