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Sustainability at the Toledo Zoo

The Toledo Zoo is committed to our mission of “conserving the natural world and we are striving to be a model for the community in all that we do.  Our efforts have translated into a vast array of sustainable initiatives and practices that have been implemented into our capital and operational improvement projects.  

Energy Management

  • Installation of a wind turbine at the main parking lot entrance to generate power for the parking lot booths 
  • Installation of our solar walkway at the main parking lot entrance to generate an additional 115,000 kWh/year for zoo energy and cost reduction (Right)
  • Installation of geothermal wells near the aquarium to use geothermal heat to help keep the aquarium. Reduces annual carbon footprint by 38%
  • Energy savings and feasibility study for the Zoo campus using combined heat and power co-generation equipment
  • Electric Peak Shaving Initiative
    · Energy Management and Conservation Group (EMCG) to study ways to manage and control our energy usage.
    · Electric peak shaving program for Arctic chiller operations. Zoo wide Power Monitoring/Load Shed program.
    · Zoo now has the capability to shed electric load automatically during periods of high use.
  • Building Automation System to monitor and control HVAC equipment in nearly fifty percent of our buildings.
  • Majority of exterior site lighting, including Lights Before Christmas is connected to a software based management system allowing the Zoo to control lighting operation times.
  • Master Plan 2020 incorporates a campus Ecology Strategy to make the Zoo a more sustainable and energy efficient facility
  • Pursuing an option in Masterplan 2020 to replace the aging boilers within the Aquarium and Greenhouse with combined heat and power co-generation equipment.
  • Green Growing Roof
    • Storm water run-off reduction
    • Cooling effect for goat barn
    • Reduced heat island effect
  • Construction of large solar array that produces 2.6 MWh per year and equates to approximately 30% of the Zoo’s total electrical energy consumption.  
  •  Lighting retro fit in major Zoo areas including Aviary, Elephant Area, Indoor Theater and Plaza saving 139,030 kWh. 
  • Parking ticket booths are outfitted with 1.8 kw wind turbines and 170watt solar panels.

Palm Oil

Many candies, cookies, crackers and even shampoos and beauty products contain palm oil harvested from rainforests in Borneo and Sumatra, home to the world’s only wild orangutan populations.

In recent years the increased demand for palm oil has led to an increase in palm tree plantations. These plantations are created by clear cutting rainforests and burning the remains, sending large amounts of the greenhouse gas CO2 into the atmosphere. As the rainforest is cleared, the orangutans’ habitat is being rapidly destroyed— orangutans could be extinct in the wild within 10 years. You can help by avoiding products that are made with palm oil. 

The Toledo Zoo is working to ensure that Pumpkin Path and Little Boo candy is not made with palm oil that’s harvested unsustainably. We try to choose candies and snacks that either do not contain palm oil or that use palm oil that is sustainably harvested. If you do not see some of your favorite candies this year, it is because after a great deal of research, we believe that they are not produced with sustainable palm oil.

Sometimes, old recyclable items can be used to keep our animals entertained and to bring out their natural behaviors such as hunting and playing. The Zoo will recycle many common items and place them in the exhibit. Common items used for enrichment include… 

  • Shredded office paper for bedding
  • Cardboard boxes
  • Fire hose
  • Plastic buckets, yogurt cups
  • 55 gallon barrels
  • Cardboard tubes/Carpet tubes
  • Perfumes and colognes
  • Sheets and towels for orangutan bedding
  • Phone books
  • Feed bags
  • Oatmeal canisters

Continued Sustainability by…

  • Shade-grown coffee in bakery
  • Shopping bags will soon be sold in gift shop to reduce plastic bag consumption
  • Zoo Teens: multiple outreach conservation projects in the region
  • Purchasing sustainable seafood for catered events
  • Use of recycled materials in construction projects, such as Nature’s Neighborhood
  • Careful selection of eco-friendly materials for construction and maintenance

Sustainability through Reduction and Recycling

The Zoo works to reduce the use of Styrofoam by…

  • Changed from Styrofoam to more environmentally friendly cups and plates in the concessions areas
  • Employees given coffee mugs to use
  • As of Summer 2006, lemonade cups will be made from corn product that degrades in the landfill
  • Refill cups have coupons to encourage people to reuse them rather than buy drinks in disposable cups

The Zoo also saves energy through…

  • Have changed many of the lights to compact fluorescent bulbs that use less energy than regular incandescent
  • Christmas lights are being replaced with LED lights that use 90% less energy

The Zoo regularly recycles…

  • Cardboard
  • Motor oil
  • Plastic
  • Batteries
  • Glass
  • Aluminum
  • Solvents
  • Paper
  • Paint
  • Cell phones
  • Cooking oil
  • Elephant Manure
  • Trees
  • Branches
  • Steel
  • Leaves
  • Annual plant material