By Guest blogger, Abigail Waugh, Education Department intern
April 22 is Earth Day! Earth Day was founded to celebrate the beauty of our planet and remember the importance it has in sustaining humans and wildlife. It’s also a day to raise awareness for threats to healthy environments and the living things that depend on them.
As The Greenest Zoo in America®, the Cincinnati Zoo is committed to these goals every day of the year. We take special care to celebrate Earth Day, hosting annual events that draw attention to what the Zoo and you can do to celebrate and sustain wildlife and wild places. This year, the Zoo is celebrating with special, self-guided activities such as a Zoo Blooms walking tour, rain barrel auction, Red Door Project, and Virtual Party for the Planet walking tour.
The Cincinnati Zoo has more on-site, direct-tied solar than all other zoos in the country combined, which is great for our mission, for our wallet, and for our long-term resiliency. And, now it’s great for our neighbors. Earlier this week, the Zoo and our partners at SonLight Power installed a 12 kW solar array at Rockdale Academy, 2 blocks from the zoo. It’s going to power a big greenhouse that will be built as soon as school is out. Other partners helping to make this happen include Reds Community Fund, Cincinnati Children’s, P&G, and Cincinnati Pubic Schools.
The solar array is a piece of a much larger project, an Urban Learning Garden, that the Zoo will support long term. We are proud to use our talents to help our neighbors and our community experience the same benefits that we enjoy.
The 2021 Rain Barrel Auction has begun! Bid on over 100 beautifully painted rain barrels through April 30th. Rain barrels are a great way to go green at home. You can help fix an environmental problem that has persisted for decades. Most of our city’s old sewers handle both wastewater and rainwater. When it rains a lot, as it does in the Ohio Valley, these combined sewers cannot handle the volume of both, and they overflow, spilling contaminated water into local waterways. By collecting and using rainwater at home you keep it out of the sewers.
Lions, Tigers, and Sustainability, OH MY! The Red Door Project powered by the Art Academy of Cincinnati is pleased to partner with the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden for its upcoming exhibit and art auction, entitled “Lions, Tigers, and Sustainability, OH MY.” The exhibition is free and will be held at the Cincinnati Zoo’s Vine St. Village on Earth Day, April 22, 2021, from 6–8 pm.
“This is a wonderful way to pay homage to the beauty and wonder of the zoo,” said Barbara Hauser, founder of The Red Door Project.
“Wildlife has an undeniable power to inspire, and artists have the power to add perspective and depth of meaning,” said Dave Jenike, COO, Cincinnati Zoo. “Bringing art and wildlife together at the Zoo will be exceptional, and a perfect way to celebrate Earth Day.”
The Party for the Planet walking tour was put together by our Education Department Americorps members with the goal of highlighting the steps the Zoo takes to limit its impact on the environment and help the planet. In addition, there are steps that visitors can take in their own lives to support the health of the environment and habitats upon which humans and wildlife depend. Not only could these steps help the environment, but they could help to decrease utility bills or build a better understanding of wildlife and their behaviors that can inform and improve wildlife conservation efforts!
Zoo Blooms Walking Tour
Zoo Blooms looks a little different this year! Every spring, the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden becomes the Cincinnati Botanical Garden & Zoo when it transforms into a magnificent explosion of color! As one of only two accredited botanical gardens in Ohio, the Cincinnati Zoo offers one of the largest tulip displays in the Midwest. Dubbed “Tulip Mania,” Zoo Blooms also features more than one million daffodils, hyacinths, flowering trees, shrubs, and other colorful spring bulbs. We want to help you make the most of your botanical garden visit this April!
Download the FREE Echoes app and listen to Director of Horticulture Steve Foltz give you a tour of the gardens!
There are many ways that local organizations, like the Zoo, are setting the groundwork, but we could not make the same impact without our community getting involved too. We know that it can be easy to become overwhelmed by the issues threatening the health of our ecosystems but, by working together, we can collaborate on broader community efforts and changes that are good for the wildlife and the people who live there.
Being a good steward to our planet is certainly a group effort and together, we can help to protect and conserve our planet and ensure the wellbeing of the wildlife and people who call it home.