fbpx

Sustainability

The Virginia Zoo is committed to sustainable practices and encourages the community to do the same. Here are several ways the Zoo has dedicated to green practices – how many are you doing?  How many can you try in your home, workplace or community this year? Not only are we building a community of environmental stewards, but we are also saving money, resources and the world with our daily actions.

ECO-CELL

Help the Zoo turn your old gadgets and electronics into a saving force for the environment through our new Eco-Cell recycling program!

Simply place any unwanted electronic item or accessory in our Eco-Cell bin located outside the Gift Shop (exterior of the Zoo).

Click here for more information.

Small girl and boy opening a recycling box and putting in a cell phone

Red panda laying on a branch of a tree surrounded by leaves

Saving Energy

The Zoo reduces electricity by using light sensors to turn on lights in guest restrooms, keeping overhead lights off in hallways and unused rooms in the administration building, and keeping blinds open to use natural light in staff offices.

Malayan tiger drinking water at the Virginia Zoo

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. The Zoo has also installed automatic flush toilets and faucets in all of its restrooms that reduce water and electrical usage.

Water sitting in a rain garden at the Virginia Zoo

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

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 in thought

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. 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. Take action by making 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.

zoo horticulture staff plants turnip seeds

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.

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.

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

Three adults shoveling mulch off the back of a truck

Green Team

The Virginia Zoo Green Practices and Sustainability Committee or “Green Team” works to improve green practices and sustainability here at the Zoo through recycling practices, composting and other environmentally-friendly applications.

Hand grabbing a raw oyster on the half shell

Seafood Watch

Working with hundreds of organizations across the globe, including food companies and distributors, as well as zoological institutions such as the Virginia Zoo, the Seafood Watch program has worked to improve the sustainability of global fisheries and aquaculture by helping businesses and consumers make better seafood choices, giving major seafood buyers the tools they need to leverage their purchasing power, helping seafood producers improve their fishing and aquaculture practices and informing national and international policy.

Download the Seafood Watch app on your mobile device, visit the Seafood Watch website or check out the Virginia Aquarium’s guide to local dining in Hampton Roads here.

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: