The Phoenix Zoo’s Green Team is a group of employees and volunteers dedicated to ensuring that the Zoo is as eco-friendly as possible and strives to conserve resources. The Green Team researches and makes recommendations on “earth-friendly” products and practices, especially ones we can incorporate into the operation of the Zoo.
“Living Green” means finding ways to reduce your negative impact on the environment and increase your positive impact — helping to conserve resources and preserve our world for future generations. It also means looking for ways to share the world with everything, including plants and animals and being a better neighbor in the natural world.
It’s not easy being green, but it is possible. Look here to see what we’re doing and what YOU can do to be a better neighbor by Living Green.
Energy Saving Measures
The Arthur L. Johnson and Elaine V. Johnson Foundation Conservation Center was built with a low impact on resources in mind. Decorative walls were made from recycled concrete from an old Zoo exhibit and installation was done largely by volunteer groups such as local Boy Scout troops.
In addition, SRP donated a 10- kilowatt solar power system for the Johnson Center to offset energy usage. The system (valued at more than $125, 000), funded by SRP EarthWise™ Energy, encourages customers to pay a small premium above their monthly electric bill to fund renewable-energy projects.
We have been working over the last few years to convert the more than 3.5 million lights used for ZooLights to LED, which use up to 90 percent less energy than traditional lights. We’re also working to install energy efficient appliances in all of our buildings, including hand dryers in our restroom facilities.
Recycling at the Zoo
- We recycle materials with the City of Tempe and send out other items to appropriate sources. Plastics without a recycling number, for example, go to E.L.F. Products in Tucson, a plastics fabricator who is able to include a wide range of materials in their final product.
- We encourage our guests to recycle during their visit by providing recycling bins throughout the Zoo.
- Many of the computers that we use at the Zoo are computers that have been recycled. We also participate annually in StRUT’s Computer Recycling Day.
- The napkins and paper used at the Zoo are made from recycled materials.
- We reuse many materials as enrichment items for our animals or project materials for camp programs and workshops. Such items include: newspapers, phone books, cardboard tubes and boxes, Christmas trees and plastic containers.
- Our Zoo maps are recycled.
- Our mister systems, which help cool our animals and guests, are connected to either thermostats or timers so that they are only in use when they are needed.
- By changing the heads and installing motion sensors at Yakulla Caverns and Leapin’ Lagoon, we’ve been able to reduce the amount of water used at these popular attractions by over 30 percent.
- We are working to install rainwater catchments at the C.W. & Modene Neely Education and Event Center to help us water the landscape surrounding the building.
- We’ve installed water saving nozzles on all of our hoses to help save water while cleaning.
- Any water issues (such as broken sprinkler heads) are considered an emergency and fixed immediately so that we can minimize water loss.
- We work to use the most efficient means to water our landscape as we can.
- Low-flow urinals have been installed in many of the bathrooms.
- Removing all non-native palms and replacing them with native or drought resistant trees – more shade and less water use.
- Future plans include investigating more rainwater and gray water capture to use for our landscaping.
Most of the vehicles we use on Zoo grounds, including the Safari Train, use electricity or propane, which helps cut down on pollution.
Cell Phone Recycling Program
The Zoo works with Eco-Cell to recycle old cell phones to raise funds for the Zoo and help the environment. According to the EPA, 130 million cellular phones will go out of use this year. That creates an estimated 65, 000 tons of electronic garbage. Find out more about the Zoo’s participation and how you can help!
Looking to the Future
We recognize that going green is a continual process and the Zoo’s Green Team continues to research and suggest new ways to help improve the sustainability of our operations. We’ll continue to update this section as we add new projects to our list.
Partnering with Other Organizations
The Zoo actively participates in conservation efforts of organizations in the Valley and around the globe.
The Zoo is a proud Seafood Watch Partner Organization, a program from Monterey Bay Aquarium to raise consumer awareness about the importance of buying seafood from sustainable sources. For more information about the Seafood Watch program or to download their mobile app, visit seafoodwatch.org.