Big steps for New York zoos
At first glance, a zoo is just a place with a lot of animals, in cages. Further inspection would reveal that most New York zoos are taking major steps toward education, stewardship and conservation.
Saturday, July 21, 2012 - 21:43
ZOO FAVORITE: The elephant, a popular animal among zoogoers, is a symbol in and outside the zoo for conservation. This elephant currently lives at the Buffalo Zoo. (Photo: Janelle Hoh)
Conservation and good stewardship are not qualities that can only be found in deep wilderness areas around the world. Those qualities can be found right around the corner, at a zoo near you! Here are just three examples of New York zoos that are making great efforts in the name of conservation:
Seneca Park Zoo — Rochester, N.Y.
The Seneca Park Zoo is committed to promoting good stewardship and conservation. The zoo aims to encourage involvement with conservation of both wildlife and habitat in the Greater Rochester Community, and in communities around the globe.
A special exhibit titled "Your Green Backyard" actually shows visitors what indigenous species they can find, right near their own homes. The exhibit explains how to create an organic garden, without including harmful pesticides and fertilizers. Those who visit this exhibit can also learn how bats and ladybugs are important to the environment. While protecting species in distant places is important, it is equally important to protect what is right in our own back yards — and that is what "Your Green Backyard" aspires to do.
The Buffalo Zoo — Buffalo, N.Y.
The Buffalo Zoo knows climate change is a very important issue these days. With a program called "Bear Minimums" everyone is encouraged to find ways to decrease their impact on the planet. It is a monthly challenge created to slow climate change, help save polar bears, and save money on your electric or gas bill, all at the same time!
"Polar Bear Points" are given out for participating in activities that help the environment. For example, by turning your household's thermostat up by 2 degrees in the summer and down by 2 degrees in the winter, 17 polar bear points are awarded. A household can register online (on the Buffalo Zoo's website) and once the pledge has been made to reduce the household's carbon footprint, the household is automatically entered to win monthly raffle prizes.
Bear Minimums can teach children, as well as adults, the importance of being good stewards of Earth by slowing the progress of climate change.
The Bronx Zoo — Bronx, N.Y.
The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), headquartered at the Bronx Zoo, has made tremendous efforts in "greening" its facilities. One building at the zoo will boast a LEED Gold rating from the U.S. Green Building Council. That building will be the Lion House, once it is restored, and will be the first building in New York City to receive the honor. LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. In essence, LEED is a fancy way of saying an establishment is a "high performance green building." A building can qualify for four levels of certification under the LEED system, gold being the second highest.
The WCS is also working hard to making other New York City zoos and aquarium buildings and facilities green. The organization believes that conservation must occur globally but also at home.
Each zoo mentioned here does many, many things in the name of good stewardship and conservation. Not every single activity was mentioned. For further information, visit their websites.
Photos: Janelle Hoh