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Help Make Hunger Go Extinct!

This Saturday, May 7th, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul-Cincinnati and the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden are oining together to “make hunger go extinct” in Greater Cincinnati by hosting a food donation drive at the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden from 10am until 2pm.


Volunteers and donation barrels will be set up in the Historic Vine Street Village, just across from the Zoo Gift Shop. Guests who donate a minimum of three non-perishable food items when they visit the Zoo on Saturday will receive a free child ticket ($13 value) with the purchase of an adult ticket. Limit one ticket per person. Tickets are redeemable August 20 – September 30, 2016.

orang eating

“During the summer months, families truly struggle to feed their children as they can no longer rely on school lunches,” said Mike Dunn, Executive Director, St. Vincent de Paul – Cincinnati. “For parents who count every dollar, those extra meals can mean making the choice between feeding their children or paying the rent. With a stocked pantry, we can help alleviate that pressure.”

“Serving our community has been a part of our Zoo’s mission for the past 5 or 6 years, where we recognize our responsibility to partner with diverse and economically challenged communities in our daily work,” says Fia Cifuentes, Sustainable Communities Advocate for the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden. “Improving food access has been a major focus for us. Growing food locally, understanding where food comes from, and ensuring all has access to healthy diets – whether animal or person – is so important for a positive future for our environments. We are happy and proud to support St. Vincent de Paul with this food drive.”

All of the food collected in this Saturday’s food drive will be distributed at St. Vincent de Paul’s Liz Carter Outreach Center Choice Food Pantry in the West End, which serves a total of 9 zip codes, including Avondale’s 45229. They are most in need of tomato products like spaghetti sauce, pizza sauce, and any kind of canned tomato; various soups and stocks; meals in a can (such as ravioli); and personal care items.

Each donation barrel can support an estimated 250 pounds of canned goods. If we reach our goal of filling 10 barrels, it would provide the food allotment for the month for approximately 167 people. In addition, St. Vincent de Paul serves an estimated 3,000 people per month, and distributes approximately 36,000 pounds of food, valuing $1,000,000 per year.

St. Vincent de Paul operates many food pantries throughout Cincinnati, including the Edyth and Carl J. Lindner Choice Food Pantry in the West End, nine neighborhood-based pantries and many food closets. More than 900 parish-based volunteers visit the homes of struggling families in their own neighborhoods to provide basic necessities such as food.

To learn more, visit www.SVDPcincinnati.org or call 513-421-HOPE (4673).

Be sure to share your #HungerExtinction photos and fun with us at: www.Facebook.com/SVDPcincinnati

Follow the Zoo at www.facebook.com/cincinnatizoo or www.twitter.com/cincinnatizoo.

May 3, 2016   No Comments

More than Plumage Deep: Animal Attraction

Guest blogger: Kristina Meek, Education/Wild Encounters

The bright plumage of a peacock is so unmistakable that we use it as a metaphor for showing off to prospective romantic partners. When a male peacock unfurls its brilliant tail feathers, you can’t help but stop and stare. When you walk through the Zoo, you’ll almost certainly encounter one of our male peacocks, crooning his relationship status or proudly displaying his colorful fan. He might even try to distract you from other, less colorful animals, by inserting himself between you and them! (If you’d like to learn the cool way that the structure of the peacock’s feathers produces the glorious colors, check out these findings from 2003.)

Look at me! (Photo: Cassandre Crawford)

Look at me! (Photo: Cassandre Crawford)

It’s spring, which means mating season for many animals, so it’s a great time to notice how animals preen, prance or patter in hopes of propagating their species.

We talked about mating signals during a recent  Zoo Troop session for 6th through 8th graders called “Be Mine.” The students observed birds, fish, and other creatures, learning about physical traits, actions, sounds, and scents that animals use to say, “Relationship Status: Available.”

We giggled a bit at the similarities between the human animal and some of the others out there. Humans choose clothing, hairstyles, perfumes, and workouts often with the goal of attracting a mate. Is a rock star strutting and belting a song so different from a male bird calling to passing females? Are our fashion choices so different from scales or plumage? We even studied the bower bird, which spends weeks building an elaborate “bachelor pad” complete with bling that he painstakingly gathers from his environment. Do you know anyone like that? There’s no doubt, we have a lot in common with wild animals.

John shows off his luxurious mane. (Photo: DJJAM)

John shows off his luxurious mane. (Photo: DJJAM)

An animal’s tools of attraction indicate that animal’s fitness, meaning the quality of its genetic material. Picking a mate who is strong, capable, and beautiful tends to mean their offspring will be the same. A lion with a lush mane is better protected during battles with rivals. A brighter pink flamingo has chowed on more shrimp. Some animals, from spiders to penguins, bring each other gifts, which may demonstrate the hunting prowess needed to feed young.

Lucky for humans, we’re able to see beneath the surface. What if you could only choose a partner based on outward signs or on what might be considered an ideal physical appearance? That would limit your choices considerably, and think of all that you might miss out on. We get to consider a person’s values and personality, likes and dislikes. We also have differing ideas about what is attractive. You might think someone is adorable who your friend finds positively plain.

As you explore the Zoo this spring, notice the mating rituals going on among the animals — even the human ones. Take a minute to consider how we’re alike and different from our fellow residents of planet Earth. And keep an eye out for the results of all this mating… Zoo babies!

One of the cheetah cubs in the Nursery now! (Photo: Mark Dumont)

One of the cheetah cubs in the Nursery now! (Photo: Mark Dumont)


May 2, 2016   No Comments

Taking Root: Nearly 200,000 Trees Planted So Far

“The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago. The second best time is now.” – African proverb

girls hug treeIt’s Arbor Day, the day to take notice of all the wonderful things our leafy green neighbors provide us – beauty, shade, clean water and oxygen, just to name a few. Planting a tree isn’t just about what it can do for us today; it’s an investment in our future.

Join us in support of the Taking Root campaign, a region-wide initiative to plant one tree per person (two million) in the Tri-state by 2020. Last year around this time, nearly 85,000 trees had been planted and registered with Taking Root. This year, that number is approaching 200,000 and growing fast as the campaign gains momentum.Taking Root logo

Greening the Flying Pig

Last year, Taking Root teamed up with the Flying Pig Marathon to plant trees along marathon route that will offset the carbon footprint of the event. The goal is to plant 26 trees for 26 miles. If you’re running the Flying Pig Marathon this Sunday, look for several trees that have already been planted along Victory Parkway and Pete Rose Way.

Tree planted along the Flying Pig Marathon route (Photo: Taking Root)

Tree planted along the Flying Pig Marathon route (Photo: Taking Root)

Make a Difference Day

Taking Root also kicked off its first annual, region-wide tree planting event on National Make a Difference Day on October 24, 2015. On that day, 29 teams in 22 different Tri-state communities planted 1,100 trees! This year, Taking Root plans to make an even bigger difference on National Make a Difference Day on October 22, 2016.

make a difference day planting

(Photo: Taking Root)

Connecting People with Resources

If you can’t plant a tree in your own yard, consider joining a tree planting event at your local park or organize a tree planting at your church or school. In fact, if you have a project in mind, Taking Root is happy to help connect you with the resources you need. That’s what the Cincinnati Recreation Commission did when they needed help planting trees at the Olden Recreation Area in East Price Hill last week. Taking Root was able to connect them with expertise from Holscher Hackman Garden Center and volunteers from Macy’s to get the job done. Submit your project application here.

Planting trees in East Price Hill

Planting trees in East Price Hill (Photo: Taking Root)

Wherever you find yourself on this Arbor Day, take a minute to appreciate the trees around you and consider supporting the Taking Root campaign to ensure a healthy planet for future generations.

April 29, 2016   No Comments