Tails From The Zoo

Eco-Dates for March 2010 February 23, 2010

Filed under: Biodiversity,Eco-Dates,Uncategorized — Scott Gray @ 10:37 am
Tags: , ,

It’s been a little while since I focused on some of the monthly eco-awareness dates, but January and February are a bit light in that regard. I hope you spent time on February 2, World Wetlands Day, thinking about how biologically diverse wetlands are. They are extremely important as habitat for so many animals and plants. Some animals (like muskrats) are permanent marsh users while others are more seasonal, such as the dozens of species of birds that use marshes as staging grounds during migration.

China’s Year of the Tiger began on February 14th. Happy New Year China! Let’s hope the tiger has a good year in 2010 since they’ve not been doing well in the wild as of late.


We’ve got lots to look forward to in March, including:

March 3-5 – World Sustainable Energy Days

March 7-13 – National Tree Week

March 14 – International Migratory Bird Day

March 15-19 – National Wildlife Week

March 12-20 – National Outdoor Week (UK)

March 20 – Vernal (Spring) Equinox

March 21 – World Forestry Day

March 22 – World Day for Water (UN)

March 23 – World Meteorological Day (UN)

March 27 – Earth Hour (8:30 pm)


I will be writing separate posts for many of these days and hope you will stay tuned. I also hope you will take part in one or more of these special awareness days. It’s so easy to do and it does make a positive difference to our environment. Don’t believe me? If everyone that reads this blog takes a friend out to plant a tree during the week of March 7-13 (National Tree Week), we’ve instantly created lots of new habitat for animals. Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of animals (including insects, birds, mammals) will use the trees. Plus, the trees will of course help filter CO2 out of the environment over the years they are growing. The trees, even after they’ve died, will also act as shelter for many animals.

Let us know what you are doing to celebrate some of these awareness days by leaving a comment to help inspire others to get involved.


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.


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 )


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)


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


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)


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


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


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 )


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.


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.


World Oceans Day May 28, 2009

Filed under: Conservation Programs,Eco-Dates,World News — Scott Gray @ 11:40 am
Tags: ,

Hi everyone. I thought I would share an email we received from Bill Mott, the Director of The Ocean Project.  I hope you will get involved with us by wearing blue and telling two on June 8th.

For World Oceans Day…  Wear Blue, Tell Two!

With the newly official World Oceans Day coming up June 8th, The Ocean
Project encourages partners to launch a “Wear Blue and Tell Two”
campaign to celebrate. Participation is easy: wear blue in honor of the
ocean, and tell people two things they likely don’t know about the ocean
and ways they can take action.

Our recent public opinion research – to be released publicly on June 4 –
indicates that the public is looking to zoos, aquariums, and museums
(ZAMs) to learn more about ocean issues and how they can help; through
this campaign, we hope to help our Partners find new ways to meet this

Wear Blue and Tell Two
We urge all Partners and others in the ocean conservation community to
promote association between the color blue and World Oceans Day:

Wear Blue
In honor of the ocean on this special day, we are asking individuals
everywhere – especially those working at ZAMs, as well as those at NGOs,
agencies, universities, schools, and businesses – to help spread the
blue. For instance, you might develop buttons and/or posters saying “Ask
me why I’m blue today” to help staff and docents stimulate a
“conservation conversation.”

Tell Two
Tell people two things they likely don’t know about the ocean combined
with an easy way for them to help. According to our public opinion
survey, most people don’t realize that our ocean is in trouble, but they
trust ZAMs and are looking to them to provide information on how to
help. Few people are aware of the close connection between climate
change and ocean health; for example, climate change is killing coral
reefs as water temperatures rise. And few know that destructive fishing
practices are causing huge declines in the many types of fish we depend
on for food. However, you can let your visitors know that there are
personal actions each person can take to help.

For example:

  • Calculating carbon footprints and finding ways to reduce household carbon emissions.
  • Choosing healthy and sustainable seafood: abundant in supply, and fished or farmed without harm to the ocean.

Find links to the best online carbon calculators, seafood guides, and
more here: http://www.theoceanproject.org/wod/wod_wearblue.php

“Wear Blue and Tell Two” on June 8: www.WorldOceansDay.org