Tails From The Zoo

Eco-Friendly Zoo Initiatives June 20, 2009

Filed under: Carbon Footprints,Eco-Projects,Education Programs — Scott Gray @ 9:47 am

The Zoological Society’s Education Department has been busy promoting Mission Big Foot, as part of our commitment to the “Year of the Carbon Footprint” in 2009. A big part of our messaging this year includes ways in which people can reduce the size of their carbon footprints, i.e. their big feet. We also want to make sure that we practice what we preach and compiled a list of actions that the Assiniboine Park Zoo and the Zoological Society of Manitoba have taken to reduce the size of our footprints.

In addition to reclaiming and reusing as much materials for the old panda building for our new lion enclosure, and encouraging staff to walk or bike to work, we can proudly say that we have been doing the following:
The Zoological Society of Manitoba and Assiniboine Park Zoo are pleased to be contributing to a wilder, greener future for plants and animals by practicing ecologically sensitive business.

Eco-friendly Materials and Products:

  • Our Food Services division provides containers and plates made from Bagasse instead of polystyrene, serves drinks in Ecotainer coffee cups and clear corn juice cups, and uses forks, knives and spoons derived from potatoes instead of plastic. All of these products can also be composted.
  • Our Zoo Gift Shop uses OXO biodegradable bags.
  • The Gift Shop also sells Mr. Ellie Pooh paper products, 100% organic cotton t shirts, purses made of bamboo, coconut and bamboo xylophones, and plantable paper.


  • Compost bins are used to turn zoo classroom, Animal Tracks Cafe and Terrace 55’s food scraps into soil.
  • Large scale composting of organic materials like plant material, hay and bedding, and animal manure saves hundreds of tons of rubbish from entering landfills.


  • All paper, glass, plastic and aluminum products are collected and picked up by local companies.
  • Fluorescent light bulbs are collected and brought to a special depot for proper disposal.
  • All scrap metal is collected for recycling depots.
  • We collect used ink jet, laser printer and fax cartridges as well as old cell phones, and send it to companies that recycle the materials.
  • We purchase office paper and paper products made from recycled material.


  • We actively solicit public donations of used items like fridges, ladders, bicycles, towels, and animal equipment for reuse throughout the zoo to reduce cost and cut back on consumerism.
  • Branches and small trees are chipped and the wood chips then used for enclosures and pathways.

Environmental Education:

  • Strong environmental and conservation messaging is a vital part of all children, adult and senior programs (including camps, guided tours, and workshops) at the Zoo Education Centre.
  • The Zoo Education Centre has joined forces with zoos around North America in 2009 as part of a yearlong initiative to challenge schools, families, companies and governments to reduce the size of their carbon footprint and their negative impacts on the earth.

Reducing Our Consumption and Our Impact:

  • Both our Gift Shop and Café use Bio-Life cleaning products that are plant based (renewable), biodegradable and phosphate-free.
  • These greener cleaners are being phased-in zoo-wide as is the use of compact fluorescent bulbs and other energy saving devices.
  • Timers and sensors are installed in offices, buildings and exhibits so that lights are not left on.
  • We accept donations of fresh fruit and veggies from the public for the animals so it does not go to waste as well as donations of other foodstuffs, material and other pertinent items from companies to assist with costs and so the items don’t end up in the landfill.
  • Newsletters, renewal and registration forms are emailed instead of sent by regular post whenever possible.
  • If brochures, newsletters or marketing materials are produced, they are printed on 100% post-consumer paper with vegetable based inks.
  • We use electric golf carts and tour trolleys and staff get around the zoo on bikes.
  • We support and participate in anti-litter campaigns.

For more information on how you can reduce your carbon foot print, visit www.planetpartnership.com and take the short training session! Planet Partnership makes a donation to the Zoological Society for every session taken. Use the password rfapz25 to get started!


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