Tails From The Zoo

Construction To Begin On Zoo’s Old Bear Range June 8, 2010

The Assiniboine Park Zoo and Assiniboine Park Conservancy announced plans today for its new International Polar Bear Conservation Centre at a unique “snow-turning” ceremony today. Construction is scheduled to begin next week on a new transition centre for orphaned polar bear cubs. The $4.5-million education and research facility and polar bear “transition centre” in Assiniboine Park Zoo will be a world-wide centre for Arctic conservation. The new building is to be constructed behind the zoo’s existing bear enclosure.

The transition centre will be off limits to the public most of the time but a new state-of-the- art Arctic exhibit, with room for six adult polar bears will open in 2013 for public viewing of bears.  The Province of Manitoba has committed $31 million to the project, including $4.5 million for the conservation centre and more than $26 million for construction of the polar bear arctic exhibit.

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For more information on this story, please see the following coverage:

Winnipeg Free Press: Work Set to Begin On Rescue Facility

ChrisD.ca:  Snow Turned on First Phase of Polar Bear Centre

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Arctic Biodiversity Initiative May 20, 2010


Ottawa, May 20 – Canada’s accredited zoos and aquariums are launching a national awareness campaign to engage Canadians in supporting the preservation of biodiversity in our Arctic. May 22nd is the International Day of Biodiversity and many zoos and aquariums are holding special events to mark the occasion.

“2010 is the International Year of Biodiversity” declared Rachel Leger, President of the Canadian Association of Zoos and Aquariums. “CAZA and its partners have identified our Arctic regions as a priority concern for addressing challenges to Arctic species and their habitats. We are reaching out to Canadians everywhere to enlist their support in ensuring a sustainable future for this vital part of our country. In connecting with Canadians from coast to coast to coast, we will be working closely with our partners – Parks Canada, the Canadian Wildlife Federation and Polar Bears International”.

Throughout International Biodiversity Year 2010 and into the future, CAZA member zoos and aquariums will present a broad range of information and education about environmental issues in Canada’s Arctic. The variety of life on earth – the plants and animals that make up ecosystems – is called biodiversity. Thousands of organisms – bacteria, insects, plants, birds and mammals – live and thrive above, on and under a single square foot of earth. All of these species are connected like the strands of silk in a spider’s web. If a species is lost or habitat disappears, the web starts to fall apart. When we lose this biodiversity we lose life itself.

At first glance its vast, icy surface might seem empty, but Canada’s Arctic is filled with extremely rich and active ecosystems. From tiny plankton to huge whales, entire communities of animals and plants make their homes on, under or at the edge of the ice.

The unique polar species that live in the Arctic are specially adapted to its extreme conditions – freezing temperatures, strong winds, deep snow, thick ice and permafrost. Even slight changes to the Arctic’s fragile habitats can have a huge impact on these species, and human activities are taking their toll. Pollution, climate change and development all affect Arctic temperature, habitat and available food sources. As their Arctic home continues to change, polar bears, belugas, caribou and the smaller northern animals and plants that support them face an uncertain future.

Protecting species and habitats with national parks, working jointly with Inuit communities to manage these parks, conducting scientific research and spreading the message to Canadians across the country are all part of the cooperative approach inspired by the International Year of Biodiversity and being implemented by CAZA and its three partners. Education programs, lectures, special events, community presentations and other activities will be carried out at each of the participating accredited zoos and aquariums across the country. CAZA members will also help out with Arctic field work and the research that supports it – and will invite Canadians to contribute to this worthwhile endeavour. This special effort is intended to build on the extensive work carried out by Canada’s accredited zoos and aquariums in captive breeding and population management programs.

A wealth of information about the Arctic, its biodiversity challenges and what is being done to address them can be found on a new, specially-designed website at www.ourarctic.ca

On behalf of the people of Canada, Parks Canada protects and presents nationally significant examples of Canada’s natural and cultural heritage, and fosters public understanding, appreciation and enjoyment in ways that ensure their ecological and commemorative integrity for present and future generations.

Polar Bears International (PBI) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the worldwide conservation of polar bears and their habitat through research, stewardship, and education. PBI provides scientific resources and information on polar bears and their habitat to institutions and the general public worldwide.

The Canadian Association of Zoos and Aquariums is a not for profit national organization that represents Canada’s 25 accredited zoos and aquariums. It sets standards through its accreditation program, leads and coordinates work in the fields of research, conservation and education, and represents its members’ interests with governments at all levels.

For further information:

Bill Peters

Canadian Association of Zoos and Aquariums

 

Fun Friday Zoo Facts April 30, 2010

Filed under: Biodiversity,Birds,Carbon Footprints,Eco-Dates,World News — Scott Gray @ 3:30 pm
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Saving the Earth is a lot easier than you think!

  • A gas-powered lawn mower for one hour can emit as much pollution as driving a car more than 320 kilometres.  Trade in your gas-guzzler for an electric or solar powered lawn mower!

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Following up on the recent zoo baby announcements:

  • The Assiniboine Park Zoo now has baby stones sheep, European bison, and reindeer.

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Upcoming National and International Days
International Composting Awareness Week – May 3 to 9 –
Visit: The Composting Council of Canada
International Migratory Bird Day – May 9 – Visit: http://www.birdday.org/
International Day for Biological Diversity – May 22 – Visit Biodiversity Canada
World Turtle Day – May 23 – Visit: Turtle Day Celebrations

 

Solar Powered Trash Compactor at the Zoo April 26, 2010

The Zoological Society of Manitoba recently unveiled a new solar-powered trash compactor at the Assiniboine Park Zoo. The bin is adjacent to the Animal Tracks Cafe and will hold five times a much garbage as traditional garbage cans. This helps us to reduce the number of vehicle trips associated with frequent trash collection as well as reduce litter from overflow and reduce issues with wasps in the summer because the new bin is covered.

“In keeping with our commitment to conservation efforts, we are very please to accept Waste Managment’s donation of a solar power compator”, said Tricialynn Zacharias in last week’s press release. “It means a better environment for our zoo animals, staff and visitors.”

Watch a video of the bin’s use here: http://www.thinkgreen.com/bbsmall

Indeed, Waste Management’s generosity to donate the bin, and a companion recycling bin, is significant as the unit normally retails for $3,700.

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The Zoological Society and Assiniboine Park Zoo are greening things in a number of other ways.

Zoo Gift Shop:

  • Using OXO biodegradable bags in our Zoo Gift Shop
  • Selling “Poo Poo Paper”  products, 100% organic cotton tshirts, purses made of bamboo and coconut and bamboo xylophones.

Composting:

  • Compost bins are used to turn zoo classroom and zoo restaurant 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.

Reusing:

  • 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.

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 fruit, veggies  and 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.

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These are just some of the ways we are trying to make a difference. We have plans for more solar panel use in buildings, as well as geo-thermal for the zoo.

 

Wild Weeks in March March 10, 2010

Filed under: Biodiversity,Carbon Footprints,Eco-Dates,Uncategorized — Scott Gray @ 11:21 am
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We are in the middle of National Tree Week, which runs from March 7 to 13, and I’m wondering what you are doing to celebrate. Have you hugged a tree yet? Okay that’s maybe a little simplistic but what child doesn’t like hugging a tree?

The aim of National Tree Week is to raise awareness about trees and to encourage local communities to participate in forest walks and tree plantings. Planting a tree you can help to reduce carbon emissions. Trees take in carbon dioxide from the air and convert much of it into wood. The by-product of doing so is the production of oxygen. Trees also provide habitats for birds, insects, small mammals and even a few frogs!

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Next week, March 15 – 21, is National Wildlife Week in the US. You can celebrate the week by getting outside and enjoying nature. “Climb trees, chase butterflies, dig in the dirt and celebrate nature. You’ll become healthier, happier and more connected to the world around you.” Keep your momentum going and send your child to our Spring Day Camp at the Assiniboine Park Zoo – where our policy is no child is left inside!

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If you’re more of a bird person, keep a note on the calendar for March 14th, International Migratory Bird Day. I’ll be posting a separate blog for this day later in the week.

 

7 Guidelines to Wildlife Conservation January 25, 2010

I am a member of the International Zoo Educators Association and often use the association’s expertise and resources in developing or researching our zoo programs. I came across the following information on their website today. I thought it was really good and worth sharing.

If you have any other ideas on how you can make a difference, please contact me at sgray@zoosociety.com. I will add them to this list or leave a comment on this blog! Thanks for helping and thanks for reading our zoo blog. With a few simple actions, every one of us can make a difference for wildlife. All the best, Scott.

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The conservation actions below are sustainable practices based on Disney’s Animal Kingdom’s 7 Guidelines to Wildlife Conservation.

Seek out information about conservation issues.

  • Read a book about your favorite animal and learn all you can about it
  • Subscribe to wildlife conservation magazines like National Geographic or Owlkids
  • Watch wildlife shows on television
  • Contact local chapters of conservation groups to find out what they’re doing in your areas
  • Obtain a list of endangered plant and animal species from CITES or from your national list (For Canada: http://www.cites.ec.gc.ca/eng/sct0/index_e.cfm )

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Spread the word to others about the value of wildlife.

  • Encourage your family, friends, and neighbors to reduce, reuse, and recycle (And compost too!)
  • Speak up for wildlife. Let your friends and family know how much you care about animals
  • Teach children to respect nature and the environment (Children can help teach their parents too!)
  • Take children camping, hiking, or on zoo and aquarium trips (Visit the Assiniboine Park and Zoo!)
  • Ensure schools have a balanced environmental education program (Take a field trip to the zoo)

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Look for and purchase products that are friendly to the environment.

  • “Adopt” an animal or habitat as a present for family or friends  (Get a Zoodoption from the Zoo Society of Manitoba HERE)
  • Take a thermos for lunch instead of a juice box to save on packaging
  • Shop for school supplies that are made from recycled materials
  • Use organic fertilizers
  • Don’t buy ivory, or other products, made from wild animals
  • Purchase shade grown coffee that benefits wildlife by conserving forests

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Create habitats for wildlife in your backyard.

  • Hang a bird feeder, put out a birdbath, or plant a small tree to show you care for wildlife
  • Plant a wildlife garden with flowers that butterflies like
  • Help your family build a bat box to eat all the mosquitoes in your backyard
  • Create a small pond in your backyard for aquatic wildlife
  • Contain domestic pets so they do not disturb wildlife
  • Help children discover the many wonders of their backyard, like the tiny world of insects (Zoo Camp is a great way to do this)

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Reduce, reuses, recycle and replenish.

  • Recycle everything you can; newspapers, glass, cans, foil, etc.
  • Turn off the water when you brush your teeth. This saves precious water
  • Ride the bus, the subway, bike or walk to school instead of taking you car — this saves energy and keeps you fit too!
  • Use cold water in the washer whenever possible (both your dishwasher and your clothes washer)
  • Take unwanted, reusable items to charitable organizations or thrift shops
  • Lower your thermostat one degree per hour for every hour that you are away

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Choose your pets wisely

  • Leave wild babies where you find them, their mothers can care for them best
  • Be a responsible pet owner. Make sure they have food, water, and a safe, comfortable place to live
  • Learn everything about the pet you want. Some pets have a very long life span – a tortoise or parrot may live over 100 years!
  • Veterinary expenses for wild or exotic pets can be high
  • Be sure the pet you choose was not taken from the wild (Learn about the illegal pet trade at one of our school and group programs)
  • Some animals have special care needs; be sure you are aware of these and can provide the care and costs that are required

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Support conservation organizations through contributions and volunteerism.

  • Join a beach or river clean-up
  • Visit a nature park where the money will go to help wildlife
  • Join a conservation organization
  • Volunteer at your local zoo or nature center
  • Contribute dollars to conservation programs (Contact the Zoological Society for donation information: http://zoosociety.com/fundraising_donations.asp )

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Thanks to Disney’s Animal Kingdom and IZE for the list

 

October’s Eco-Dates October 6, 2009

So what did you do on October 4? Did you celebrate World Animal Day? I hope so. In fact I hope you celebrate animals everyday, but in case you missed this year’s celebrations, here’s a re-cap.

World Animal Day, October 4

We celebrate World Animal Day to express our compassion and concern for all creatures. World Animal Day’s mission is to: celebrate animal life in all its forms; celebrate humankind’s relationship with the animal kingdom; acknowledge the diverse roles animals play in our lives; and be thankful for the way in which animals enrich our lives. To find out more, please visit: World Animal Day

As a reminder, there are a couple more upcoming dates to celebrate.

Waste Reduction Week runs October 19-25

Waste Reduction Week aims to inform and engage Canadians about the environmental and social impact of our wasteful practices. It strives to educate, engage and empower Canadians to reduce, reuse and recycle waste. Everyone, including schools, businesses, and individuals can all get involved! Visit Waste Reduction Week Canada at http://www.wrwcanada.com/ for more information and resources.

International Day of Climate Action is on October 24

Scientists now know that an environment with carbon in the atmosphere that tops 350 parts per million will not support life as we know it. Sadly, we’re already past that number, at 390 parts per million, which is why the Arctic is melting and drought is spreading across the planet. 350 gives us a target to aim for. Join the international movement on October 24 to take a stand for a safe climate future and raise awareness about this important number (350). Make a statement to get the attention of the world’s leaders, before they meet in Copenhagen in December to reach an agreement on a new climate treaty. Visit www.350.org to make a difference before it becomes too hard to reach our goal.