Students “Chews” to Volunteer at Zoo by Scraping Gum

Braving the chilly and windy weather, 22 students and five teachers from the Nansemond-Suffolk Academy volunteered their time to remove chewing gum from Zoo grounds. In less than 20 minutes, the group managed to remove more than 300 pieces of gum stuck to the ground near the Zoo’s ticket booths.

Chewing gum is the world’s second most common form of litter, after cigarette butts. It is not only an eyesore, but the candy is harmful to the environment. Gum is made from polymers, which are synthetic plastics that do not break down easily over time. When gum is littered, it cannot only be expensive to remove but can make its way through the food chain.

Many animals cannot digest gum, which can lead to a buildup of toxins in an animal’s system as the gum sits on the stomach, and can result in infection or death. Small birds, such as Hummingbirds, can easily get stuck to gum and can die as a result of struggling to fly away.

Along with scraping gum, the students also prepared crafts for the Zoo’s Party for the Planet event and made animal enrichment. This was part of Nansemond-Suffolk Academy’s annual Day of Caring event, in which students do a variety of service projects in the community.

No effort is too small, next time you need to dispose of your gum, consider throwing it in a trashcan and help keep the Zoo’s grounds – and all of the ground – clean and safe for wildlife.