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Category — Living Green

Take the Plunge for Polar Bears and Lower your Thermostat by Two Degrees

Join us in celebrating International Polar Bear Day by taking Polar Bear International’s Thermostat Challenge to save energy for polar bears—and then make it a habit.  At the Cincinnati Zoo, we believe in being responsible with our natural resources, which includes reducing our carbon emissions on behalf of future polar bear – and human – generations to come!

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Did you know that heating and cooling account for roughly half the energy consumption in an average home? If every American adjusted their thermostat by just one degree, it would save as much energy as the entire state of Iowa uses in a whole year!

Berit the polar bear takes a plunge of her own! (Photo: Jeff McCurry)

Berit the polar bear takes a plunge of her own! (Photo: Jeff McCurry)

When we burn fossil fuels like coal and gas for energy, those activities release more and more carbon dioxide into our atmosphere. This buildup of carbon acts like a thickening blanket around the earth, trapping in excess heat and disrupting our climate. As global temperatures rise, the amount of sea ice available for bears is continually reducing. Polar bears require sea ice for efficient hunting of their primary prey, seals. On average, it takes 45 seals a year to feed one adult polar bear. Without sea ice, polar bears will decline in range and numbers, making them vulnerable to extinction in the future. The key here is that our community’s daily activities have an impact on the Arctic and the animals that live there. In order to ensure that these wildlife and wild places will be thriving years down the road, it is our responsibility to take action now and reduce the amount of carbon our societies create.

Berit the polar bear thanks you! (Photo: Mark Dumont)

Berit the polar bear thanks you! (Photo: Mark Dumont)

So join us in saving polar bears by turning your thermostat down two degrees this winter, and encourage your family and friends to do it, too. It will give you a good excuse to pull that Snuggie out of the closet and wear those new fuzzy slippers you got over the holidays.

February 27, 2016   No Comments

Calling All Artists!

Lorax Rain Barrel 2014

Rain barrel on display in the Go Green Garden

Artists are needed to participate in the 4th Annual Rain Barrel Art Project, hosted by the Regional Stormwater Collaborative and the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden. This joint effort continues to educate the community about water conservation and pollution caused by storm water runoff. A great way to reduce that runoff is to harness rainwater in your very own rain barrel. Typically, rain barrels are a drab color, but with the beautiful talent and touch of artists, they come alive with scenes of nature, wildlife, Cincinnati, and many other designs, making them much more appealing to install on the side of your home. Utilizing a rain barrel could save a homeowner up to 1,000 gallons of water in just one summer.

Artists may submit their artwork ideas via SaveLocalWaters.org now through January 16, 2016. The top 50 entries accepted will be given rain barrels provided by the Metropolitan Sewer District of Greater Cincinnati to bring their proposed artwork to life. The completed barrels will be displayed at our Go Green Garden Exhibit during the month of April 2016. We are thrilled to be hosting the rain barrel event once again. As the Greenest Zoo in America, we are always looking for ways to inspire our community to take action that can impact the environment in positive ways.

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The grand finale to the event is the Rain Barrel Art Auction scheduled on April 21st, 2016. The painted rain barrels will be auctioned during our 7th Annual Party for the Planet Earth Day Celebration. Proceeds from the auction will be split between the Cincinnati Zoo and the Regional Storm Water Collaborative to further more conservation education and awareness.

For more information regarding the Rain Barrel Art Project or SaveLocalWaters.org, contact John Nelson, Public Relations Specialist, at (513) 772-7645 or visit the website here.

January 4, 2016   2 Comments

Celebrate National Arbor Day by Planting a Tree through Taking Root

Growing up, my favorite place to escape was among the weeping branches of a willow that stood in the far corner of our yard. I spent hours climbing that tree, watching the ants march up and down its wrinkled bark and making crowns of its leafy branches. Still now when I return to my childhood home for a visit, I always stop by to say hello to my old friend.

In our everyday lives, we generally pay little attention to the trees that grow beside us, providing the oxygen we breathe, cleaning the water we drink and shading the homes in which we live. And when we think about deforestation and the need to protect and plant trees, we usually picture far away tropical jungles. But right here in Cincinnati, we live in the middle of what used to be one of the world’s great forests, the Eastern woodlands.

Miami Whitewater Forest

Miami Whitewater Forest

When Ohio became a state in 1803, more than 95% of its land was covered with forest teeming with wildlife including black bears, wolves and bison. As settlers moved in, they cut down forests to farm. Less than 10% of Ohio remained forested by the early 1900s. Gradually, people became concerned about protecting the environment and forests began to reclaim some of the land. Today, more than 30% of Ohio is forested and wildlife populations are the healthiest they’ve been in the last century. Many species, such as the deer and turkey, have recovered fully, while others are well along the path to success, including the river otter and bald eagle.

With exotic insects like the emerald ash borer sweeping through the region killing trees, invasive plants like bush honeysuckle choking out native species and ongoing destruction and fragmentation of woodlands, there is still much recovery work to be done, and the Taking Root campaign is asking us all to get involved.

Taking Root logo

Chaired by our one of our own horticulturists, Scott Beuerlein, Taking Root is a collaboration between the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden, the Ohio Kentucky Indiana Regional Council of Governments, the Green Partnership for a Greater Cincinnati and the Green Umbrella along with many other great organizations. Founded in 2013, the campaign’s goal is to plant 2 million trees by 2020 – that’s one tree for every person in the tri-state region.

Scott Beueurlein, Zoo Horticulturist and Chair of Taking Root

Scott Beueurlein, Zoo Horticulturist and Chair of Taking Root

 

More than 83,945 trees have been planted and registered with Taking Root so far.

Mt. Airy tree planting (Photo: Scott Beuerlein)

Mt. Airy tree planting (Photo: Scott Beuerlein)

Mt. Airy tree planting (Photo: Scott Beuerlein)

Mt. Airy tree planting (Photo: Scott Beuerlein)

You can help get the numbers up by planting trees in your yard or joining a tree planting event – check the website for a calendar of events.

Last year, my family and I helped plant trees at Mitchell Memorial Forest as part of the Taking Root campaign.

Last year, my family and I helped plant trees at Mitchell Memorial Forest as part of the Taking Root campaign.

Take the Tree Planting Challenge! It’s as easy as 1-2-3.

1) Plant and register a tree on the Taking Root website, or donate to the Taking Root Tree Fund.

2) Make a video of yourself challenging friends, family, or colleagues to do the same. Check out Zoo Director Thane Maynard’s video.

3) Post your video on Facebook or other social media and link it to the Taking Root Facebook page.

You can also nominate a special tree in the tri-state region to be listed on the Zoo’s website as a Tree of Merit. Here at the Zoo, we have a particularly special red oak, Quercus rubra, that was likely here before the Zoo was even established. At more than 130 years old, it is quite impressive. It grows in the central lawn area between Swan Lake and the Reptile House. Next time you’re at the Zoo, be sure to stop by and marvel at this beautiful elder. Imagine all that has changed around it during its lifetime!

This red oak is older than the Zoo itself! (Photo: Shasta Bray)

This red oak is older than the Zoo itself! (Photo: Shasta Bray)

April 24, 2015   No Comments