Tails From The Zoo

Zoo Vision Begins With Bears June 10, 2010

Plans for Phase 1 of the Assiniboine Park Zoo’s new Master Plan have got Manitobans all abuzz about the positive changes coming to Assiniboine Park. Construction plans for the first project were rolled out on Tuesday, June 8 for a new research and education centre called the International Polar Bear Conservation Centre.

Snow Turning to kick off construction

Polar bear rehabilitation, research and public education will be the focus of the first-of-its-kind, world-class International Polar Bear Conservation Centre.

Click here to see the new zoo plans : http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/local/making-room-for-polar-bears-95937289.html

Visit www.assiniboinepark.ca to learn all about the revisioning of Assiniboine Park.

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Follow up with a bit more of the coverage we’ve received:

Winnipeg Sun: http://www.winnipegsun.com/news/winnipeg/2010/06/08/14315936.html

CBC News: http://www.cbc.ca/canada/manitoba/story/2010/06/08/mb-polar-bear-rescue-centre-winnipeg.html

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Biodiversity – Our Life May 21, 2010

The Assiniboine Park Zoo and Canada’s other 24 accredited zoos and aquariums are launching a national awareness campaign to engage Canadians in supporting the preservation of biodiversity — the animals, plants, and countless other life forms that make up the world’s ecosystems.  May 22nd is the International Day of Biodiversity and many zoos and aquariums are holding special events to mark the occasion.  The Assiniboine Park Zoo is hosting a Biodiversity Display and Turtle Talk on May 22, 11 am to 3 pm, in the Tropical House, and is highlighting biodiversity conservation in many of its annual programs, such as school presentations, Spring and Summer Zoo Camps, and interpretive talks around the zoo.  Biodiversity promotional materials will also be available to zoo visitors.

2010 Biodiversity Logo

2010 is also the International Year of Biodiversity, and the Canadian Association of Zoos and Aquariums and  its partners have identified the Arctic region as a priority concern for addressing challenges to Arctic species and their habitats. They 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, CAZA will be working closely with its 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 wildlife and environmental issues in Canada’s Arctic. Thousands of organisms – including bacteria, insects, plants, birds and mammals — live above, on and under a single square metre of the earth’s surface. 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.

“It’s easy to forget that people are an integral part of Nature and that our lives are tied intimately to the living things around us.” said CAZA President Rachel Leger. “Biodiversity provides us with the oxygen, food, water, fuel, fibre, and medicine we need to survive. And our actions can either preserve or destroy these resources.”

 

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

 

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.

 

Zoo Enrichment Club March 15, 2010

Filed under: Eco-Projects,Zoo Animals — Scott Gray @ 11:58 am
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The University of Winnipeg Enrichment Club members are passionate students from a variety of fields and faculties within the university. The focus of the club is to help improve the welfare of the animals at the Assiniboine Park Zoo through the implementation of various enrichment projects. These projects may include environmental, feeding or sensory enrichment and are created in collaboration with keepers. The club has regular meetings to discuss new ideas and “create” the projects. At the February meeting the club worked on phase one of paper-mache treat feeders and constructed several treat boards for the macaques, squirrels and other animals. Club members are also working on a tunnel system for the meerkats. The Enrichment Club can be contacted at uofwenrichment@hotmail.com

Large seed board

Macaque with large treat board

 

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

 

Reducing our Zoo Footprint July 28, 2009

The Zoological Society of Manitoba and Assiniboine Park Zoo have been busy over the past couple of years significantly reducing our carbon footprint. What does that mean you may ask? Well, simply that we are trying to do as many things at the zoo that reduce our negative impact on the earth and the environment. I’ve listed many of our activities in previous blogs, but if we just sat back and said, “Look what we did”, we really wouldn’t be leading by example. So instead, we’re continually trying to find ways of greening the zoo.

Most recently, the education department built five new mobile interpretation stations using reclaimed wood. On a much grandeur scale, the Asian lion exhibit is being built with our impact in mind. Our project engineers and architects have been assisting us by ensuring we reuse or reclaim as much of the old building materials as we can. Here’s a run down of what they’ve been able to do.

New Construction:

  • Rubber Curb Edging:  100% recycled (134 feet)
  • Retaining Wall: 5% flyash recycled material
  • Steel Work: Rail re-used
  • Fibreglass insulation: 55% recycled (287 cu ft)
  • Glass: 5% recycled (18 cu ft)
  • Flooring Materials: Polished Concrete floor – 15% Flyash recycled material (265 cu ft) – note that by utilizing a polished concrete floor, we eliminate the need for additional flooring material.  Typically, this is a leading source for harmful off-gasing from carpets or other flooring materials and/or adhesives

Existing Building:

  • Structure: 97% remains
  • Wall Panels: 88% remains
  • Existing Roofing: 100% remains
  • Glazing (Outdoor Exhibit): 57% removed
  • Platforms, Handrails: 92 % removed with 4% re-used on site and the rest re-use or recycled by the zoo

We will strive to make our zoo and our park as green as possible over the years and will keep you up to date as to how we’re progressing.