Spring is in full bloom at the Cincinnati Zoo with a slew of upcoming exhibits, renovations and successful sustainability efforts.
Among some of the new features the zoo is showcasing this season are the opening of Cat Canyon – a display allowing visitors to come face to face through glass with Malayan tigers – and a drive to raise funds to finish the Africa exhibit, which, once completed, will be the largest exhibit in zoo history.
The zoo’s Reptile House will also have a new look, as renovations to the building’s exterior will replace deteriorating mortar and return the roof to its original red. A new welcome center featuring Smartboard technology informing guests of daily events and offering a map of the zoo is another addition.
Sustainability efforts at the zoo, such as a Sustainable Shopper mobile phone application, Earth Day electronic waste recycling, storm water management and the solar canopy project are kicking into high gear as well, says Sofia Cifuentes, the zoo’s sustainability coordinator.
“The impact that the Zoo’s operations have seen since implementing aggressive sustainability measures has been tremendous,” Cifuentes says. “In just six years, we have invested $1.5 million in utilities and have saved over $3.3 million.”
Part of that savings can be attributed to the zoo cutting its water usage by more than half – from 220 million to 90 million gallons per year – and decreasing its energy usage by 11 percent, both results of the zoo’s solar canopy project, water usage and storm water management program, Cifuentes says.
“The solar canopy project that was installed (in 2011) gave us the largest urban, publicly accessible array in the nation at 1.56 megawatts, and provided the Zoo with 20 percent of its energy needs,” Cifuentes says. “On days when it is sunny and cool, we are completely off the grid.”
The zoo’s sustainability efforts, however, don’t stop at the Zoo’s gates, Cifuentes says.
“We also have a strong involvement with our community and helping them be as green as they can be through community gardens, green space, home weatherization projects and other green classes,” Cifuentes says.
• Donate to the Africa Exhibit fundraising drive
. Contact Russell Doyle, (513) 487-3324, for details.
• Check out the Zoo’s new education initiative, Eat Like An Animal,
which educates families on the health benefits of eating like an animal.
• Use the zoo’s Sustainable Shopper mobile phone application
to choose products made with Certified Sustainable Palm Oil and help protect wildlife.
By James Sprague