Posts Tagged With: earth day

Arty for The Planet: Teens turn conservation into art

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Art met nature in a big way recently at the Lacerte Family Children’s Zoo’s “Arty for The Planet” event honoring Earth Day. Fifteen young “Arty-ists,” along with Dallas Zoo staff members Jamiee Golden and Sina Ogunleye, created a sidewalk chalk crazy-quilt of nature art throughout the Children’s Zoo.

The theme was simple: what inspires you about nature? The artists responded with intricate scenes of sea life and endangered species, as well as a colorful, powerful message about the importance of bees. There were parrots and lions, flamingos and giraffes, pandas, tigers, and more. Zoo visitors as well as Zoo staff were wowed by the quality of the work.

“I was not only amazed at the sheer talent of our volunteer artists, but the effect their work had on our visitors,” said Melody Alcazar, Children’s Zoo supervisor. “A sense of calm blanketed the Children’s Zoo as guests explored the work of our gifted artists and even tried their hand at creating their own nature chalk art.”

IMG_3680Volunteer artists included Maddie Olson, Alix Burn, Anna Czyzewski, Zen White, Lauryn Shaffer, Gabriela Noriega, Emily Henderson, Maya Endsley, Brennan Nichols, Robert Swofford, Leah Lara and Shelby Linker from Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing & Visual Arts. They were joined by Cameron Johnson, Seena Berryman and Katarra Smelley from the Dallas Zoo Youth Volunteer Program, who came in on their day off to participate.

“The art was a conversation piece for the entire day for our zoo guests, and for us, too,” zookeeper Stephanie Evola said. “My personal favorite was the fennec fox [drawn by Dallas Zoo member Emily Henderson, who attends Arts Magnet]. It was so gorgeous and detailed. She even included the scientific name, Vulpes zerda.”

For Shannon Linton, educational supervisor for the Zoo’s Youth Volunteer Program, the event was gratifying on two levels.

“Arty for The Planet” was a perfect example of the Zoo’s mission, actions and animals coming together for a greater cause,” Linton said. “And to see Cameron and Seena, both of whom started out as junior zookeepers, mature into these young women making such a powerful impact on so many people with their artwork… It was just incredible.”

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Categories: Children's Zoo (Lacerte Family) | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

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.

Categories: Conservation, Education, Volunteers | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

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