Dallas Zoo totally owns green living

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Being green is a way of life. As a conservation organization, we strive to practice what we preach, not just on Earth Day, but every day. We work tirelessly to combine our daily operations with our conservation mission, and we rally our community to do it with us.

Here’s how we own green living:

Growing food: Our residents eat better than most people. Across our 106-acre park, we’ve planted dozens of organic produce gardens and “browse” gardens filled with woody plants for our herbivores. *No fossil fuels were burned in the making of our animals’ food on grounds. (Reducing carbon footprint? Check.)

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Litter picker-uppers:  We clean up our community. We get up early, usually on Saturdays, and we get to work donning gloves and boots. In the past year, our Wild Earth Action Team of more than 100 staffers and volunteers filled 250-plus garbage bags with litter pollution from Cedar Creek and Trinity River’s Elm Fork. And 110 staffers and Zoo supporters pledged to pick up 10 pieces of litter pollution each Tuesday through Reverse Litter’s “10 on Tuesday” campaign. Even our raven does it! This means our network removes 1,100 pieces of litter from the environment each week. *Casually patting ourselves on the back.*

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Composting like earth warriors: Pretty much all organic matter at the Zoo, including vegetable waste from our animals’ diets, is composted on property and put back into our gardens and landscaping. Vegetable waste is a gold mine in composting – it’s high in nitrogen, natural sugars and carbon. This sought-after “green” component helps us produce the finest quality of compost. We also turned nearly 900 cubic yards of landscape debris into mulch for zoo landscaping in 2014. (Hint: Why our grounds always look so fabulous.)

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Recycling fanatics: Last year, we recycled nearly 40 tons of mixed items – about the size of a semi-truck – plus 27.5 tons of scrap metal; 14.4 tons of paperboard; 2 tons of electronics; and down to small items like our zookeepers’ rubber boots, Styrofoam, radio batteries and more. Can’t stop, won’t stop.

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Our white-necked raven Statler even helps pick up litter!

Saving water: Five barrels across the Zoo collect rainfall – up to 9,256 gallons of harvested rainwater. And thanks to Texas weather, they’re full quite often. We use this all-natural water for irrigation and exhibit maintenance. We also plant Texas native species for low-water-use landscapes.

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Safe haven for pollinators:  Some say North Texas is a pollination desert as our pollinator populations continue to decline. The Dallas Zoo is proud to be recognized as a safe haven for migrating pollinations. Last fall, we rescued 30 milkweed plants from a soon-to-be strip mall construction site in Arlington. These mature plants were successfully transplanted at the Zoo and are growing beautifully. Plus, this month our Zoo Corps teens planted 72 pollinator plants in the Lacerte Family Children’s Zoo as part of their “Operation Pollination” project. They also made and distributed 414 “seed bombs” filled with Texas native pollinator seeds for guests to easily plant their yards.

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A dedicated team: Comprised of some of the most earth-loving folks, the Dallas Zoo’s dedicated Green Team keeps us in check and in good company with Mother Nature. The Green Team manages our recycling program; helps develop sustainable practices; promotes conservation efforts; and simply makes us better every day. (Fun fact: They’ve found a local company that’ll turn our used Styroforam into lightweight concrete! Winning.) The team’s website is coming soon with details on how you can go green at home. If you’re interested in helping the Zoo with a conservation project, email volunteers@dallaszoo.com.

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Green Team helps kids plant trees in the zoo on Forest Wildlife Day.

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