Green Living

The Virginia Zoo is committed not only to greening its own operations, but engaging its community to do the same. By providing our community with the resources and tools they need to go green, we not only strengthen our relationship with them, but empower them to save money, save resources and instill pride within their homes and neighborhoods.

Saving Energy

Reduce electrical use by using sensors to turn on lights in guest restrooms, keeping lights turned off in hallways and unused rooms in the administration building, and keeping blinds open to use natural light in staff offices.

Saving Water

Zoo Keepers clean animal enclosures by sweeping instead of hosing down areas. Cisterns, rain gardens and catchment basins throughout the Zoo property capture rain water from the roofs of buildings, visitor paths and run off, causing the water to pool so that it can percolate back down into the water table making it available for future use rather than running off into storm sewers into the Lafayette River.

Rain Gardens

Three rain gardens have been created on Zoo grounds to absorb and filter run-off storm water before it seeps into the Lafayette River.

We are working to restore the wetlands at the Zoo by removing invasive plants and concrete, and planting new marsh grasses.


Recycling reduces waste in landfills including many forms of hazardous material. Recycling also reduces the need for mining raw minerals, and can reduce the costs of consumer products.

Both Zoo guests and staff are encouraged to recycle on grounds and at home. Trash and recycling bins are conveniently located across the park. The products collected in our recycling bins are sent to a facility to be broken down and reused, including paper, cardboard and plastics.

orangutan photo at the virginia zoo

Smart Shopping

Viewed by many as a good alternative to trans-fats, palm oil is found in candy, cookies, baked goods, shampoo, cosmetics, pet foods and even cleaning products. Palm oil trees are an introduced agricultural crop, primarily grown in Borneo and Sumatra. When palm oil is produced at certified sustainable plantations and mills, rainforest areas are protected. However, non-sustainable plantations result in the destruction of critical habitat for orangutans, elephants, tigers, sun bears, rhinos and many other animals. Join the Virginia Zoo by taking action and making globally responsible consumer choices. Only purchase products made from sustainably-produced palm oil, or products without palm oil present.

Also use eco-friendly cleaning products. These items work better than ever and can easily be found at your neighborhood store. Eco-friendly cleaning products are not only less harmful to the environment, but are healthier for humans to use and animals to be near.

Gardening Habits

The Zoo has an Eco-Garden featuring environmentally friendly garden techniques including composting and an Aldabra tortoise house with “living” walls and roof to educate visitors about opportunities for their own homes.

Horticulture staff have organic gardening, including rose gardens, so any plant materials on Zoo grounds can be fed to Zoo animals as a treat.

Plant native flowering plants in your yard to attract butterflies. Plant sunflowers to create beautiful natural bird feeders. Leave small brush piles for smaller critters to hide in. Maintain a green garden and lawn without pesticides.  Also consider buying locally grown produce.

Use drip irrigation systems in gardens (which require less water) and use the irrigation system only when rainfall is not sufficient.

Community Partnerships

The Zoo has formed partnerships with many businesses and organizations to work together and engage our communities in sustainability practices. Some of those include: