Category — Conservation
How about that! Greenest restaurant in America! In fact, when the Green Restaurant Association took a look at our new Base Camp Café, the Cincinnati Zoo scored the highest sustainability rating of any restaurant EVER! We’re composting and getting out of the landfill. We’re serving fresher, local foods. And we’re working toward a monster goal of having our zoo visitors eat as well as our animals!
And it’s not just our restaurant . . .
Over the past 7 years the Cincinnati Zoo has become nationally known as “The Greenest Zoo in America.” And this isn’t just a branding campaign or a marketing plan, we have the data to back it up. The Cincinnati Zoo uses 1/3 the water we used in 2006, when we began our big sustainability push. And though we have added 25% more buildings, animal exhibits, and facilities since then, we use LESS electricity and natural gas than we did back then. And it’s important to note that we didn’t accomplish this by blowing money on big new systems. In fact, part of why our “Go Green” program is so effective is that we actually save a fortune through our sustainability programs. That way, we can invest those utility savings in upkeep and improving the zoo – for both our animals and our visitors.
The Way Forward
Of course, it’s not about winning awards or recognition. The Cincinnati Zoo models effective ways to “Go Green” because it is good for our community and good for our world, as well as our bottom line. The big challenges that both wildlife and people face in the 21st Century are not going to be solved top-down. There is no magic wand that the World Wildlife Fund or the EPA can wave to save the world. Even huge problems like habitat loss and climate change will only be solved by hundreds of millions of better, more informed, decisions being made every day across America. Today the US leads the world in consumption. We can also lead the way in going green.
Come over to the Cincinnati Zoo and we’ll show you how.
June 7, 2013 3 Comments
Since 2008, CREW has been working to prevent extinction of one of North America’s most endangered salamander species, the black warrior waterdog. This project has involved the collaborative efforts of the Cincinnati Zoo, Innovative Zoological Solutions and the Cincinnati Museum Center. Initially, our work involved field surveys of Black Warrior Waterdogs in Alabama to estimate population numbers and learn more about the species biology and habitat parameters so that future efforts at captive management and propagation could be optimized. In the years following, our research has expanded to include a large scale phylogenetic study and the establishment of captive assurance populations at CREW. Since 2011, three species of waterdogs (black warrior waterdogs, gulf coast waterdogs and mudpuppies) have been maintained in CREW’s Aquatic Salamander Laboratory.
As waterdogs are fully aquatic salamanders, they require customized life support systems when maintained in captivity. Each tank is maintained on a separate UV, filter and chiller system. Since the Cincinnati Zoo is the Greenest Zoo in America, we took a ‘green’ approach when establishing CREW’s aquatic salamander lab. We have developed what we believe is a novel photoperiod mimicking system for captive environments using solar panels. This advancement in artificial lighting not only emulates natural changes in sunrise and sunset, but also daily intensity variations. As the lab does not have direct access to outside light, it was important that we try to replicate the natural environment. The system negates costs associated with electrical systems, as it runs completely off the grid and uses energy efficient LED lights. Go Green Waterdogs!
This year marked a banner year for CREW’s captive breeding program in that all three species of waterdogs produced eggs. Some of those eggs were fertilized and we are anxiously awaiting the hatching of waterdog babies! Be sure to stay tuned for future blog posts about CREW’s adventures with Waterdogs.
June 4, 2013 No Comments
Here at the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden we are gearing up for our first ever American burying beetle (ABB) reintroduction! Over the past year my wonderful volunteers, coworkers and I have raised an army of these federally endangered beauties to release at the nearby Fernald Preserve. The date is set, and the beetles are ready to go. On the 13th of May we will set free over 200 ABBs!
It is wonderfully poetic that an endangered species is to be released at such a rehabilitated location. The Fernald Preserve was born through environmental remediation. It is the product of a super fund ($4.4 billion) clean-up, managed by the US Department of Energy and opened in 2006. It was formerly the Feed Materials Production Center, which ceased operations in 1989. Fernald is now home to gorgeous upland and riparian forests, prairies, savannahs, and wetlands. It now provides habitats for over 200 species of birds, 30 species of mammals, 28 species of reptiles and amphibians, 19 species of fish and immeasurable numbers of invertebrates.
As I talked about in my previous blog, ABBs have a strange but important role in our environment. Each pair of beetles released will be placed in the ground with some carrion upon which they will raise their larvae. I’ll return to Fernald two weeks after the release to check on the breeding success. Two months later hundreds of brand new wild-born ABBs will emerge from the ground ready to play their part in the ecosystem as decomposers.
May 9, 2013 No Comments