Greening the Zoo

Rain, rain…come our way!

Horticulture manager, Randy Johnson, next to rainwater collection tank

Horticulture manager, Randy Johnson, next to new rainwater collection tank

What do rainwater harvesting tanks and reforestation have in common? They’re just a couple of the many environmentally friendly ways we create a self-sustaining ecosystem at the Dallas Zoo.

Conservation has been a pillar at the Zoo for some time now. And we aim to maximize the conservation of plants and wildlife by leading the way in sustainability and green initiatives. Through water conservation and reforestation, the Zoo reduces its ecological footprint. We hope it will encourage visitors to actively incorporate sustainable living into their own lives.

“We encourage people to lessen their ecological footprint on the earth,” said Randy Johnson, Dallas Zoo horticulture manager. “This positive impact can be a leading example for generations to come. We’re not only saving the environment, but also future generations.”

Water conservation

We’ve installed two stainless steel tanks to retain about 70% of water runoff at the Zoo. These tanks hold up to 3,125 gallons of harvested rainwater, which can be used for irrigation and other purposes, such as exhibit maintenance, throughout the Zoo.

This rainwater harvesting system reduces demand on the existing water supply and saves thousands of gallons of water over a single year. The system helps cut down on the amount of rain that washes into rivers and sewers, preventing flooding, erosion

Recently planted tree in Wilds of Africa

Recently planted tree in Wilds of Africa

and pollution. Think about it: water is a precious commodity, and rainwater tanks are an inexpensive and low-maintenance way to conserve.


We know trees absorb carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, and help offset the negative effects of climate change. As a result, the Dallas Zoo is committed to planting more native trees onsite. We’ve already planted 50 trees around the 106-acre Zoo, many in the Giants of the Savanna habitat.

Most importantly, plants and trees make up the backbone of all habitats, where animals depend on them for food and shelter. We want to use as many native plant species as possible to ensure a healthy ecosystem for the Zoo’s biodiversity.

In fact, you might say that green’s our favorite color!

Categories: Conservation, Horticulture | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Post navigation

4 thoughts on “Greening the Zoo

  1. Michael Mitchell

    Interested in the evergreen shrubs located around the elephant exhibit. What is the name of them, where could I find them? I am interested in using them in my landscaping of my property.

    My phone number is 214 551-1811. Feel free to contact me if desired. Thanks.

  2. S. Gregory

    Randy, have you come across any testing kits for the rain water collection? Or what to look for concentrates that may affect plants or animals drinking the water? Just curious.

    • Lydia Jennings

      We’ll pass on your question to Randy and have him get back to you!

  3. Hello,

    I am with the City of Dallas Office of Environmental Quality. We have a quarterly newsletter called Green Times. We often reach out to subject matter experts to pen articles for us. I’ve reached out to Zoo staff before. Most recently was an article about caring for birds during the winter.

    I wanted to ask if Randy could write an article about wildflowers in North Texas that includes what kinds we have and when and where to view them. If he can round out the article with information for people on how to select and plant wildflowers in their landscape and the benefit the flowers provide, that would tie it all together.

    The article needs to be at least half a page and there is not word limit. Most articles are 1-2 pages long. We can add any good quality photos that he has and give him credit for those too. We’d like to have the article by December 1. This will be for the January, February and March issue.

    Here is a link to our webpage:
    Here is our most recent issue of Green Times:

    Thank you so much for your time and consideration,
    O: 214-670-6646 | F: 214-670-0134
    Dallas City Hall, 7th Floor. Blue side.
    Office of Environmental Quality
    1500 Marilla St., 7AN
    Dallas, TX 75201

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Brought to you by the Dallas Zoo