Green Tip #5: Helping you make sustainable palm oil choices


For the last few years, around Halloween and Easter, we’ve updated you on candy companies committed to using certified sustainable palm oil (see our latest flyer below!). Palm oil is obtained from the fruit of the African and South American oil palm tree. Today, it’s found in about half the products sold in grocery stores, everything from cookies to toothpaste. The production of palm oil has ravaged habitats across the globe, especially in countries like Indonesia and Malaysia. To create plantations to grow more palm trees, essential rainforest habitat is destroyed, leaving animals like orangutans and tigers without homes.

Thanks to efforts from concerned consumers and organized groups, such as the Rainforest Action Network (RAN) and the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), companies are changing their ways and beginning to use sustainably harvested palm oil. What does it mean when a company uses sustainable palm oil? The company is harvesting its palm oil from plantations that are certified by the RSPO. According to RSPO, “One of the most important RSPO criteria states no primary forests, or areas which contain significant concentrations of biodiversity (e.g. endangered species) or fragile ecosystems, or areas which are fundamental to meeting basic or traditional cultural needs of local communities (high conservation value areas), can be cleared.”

Here are a few tips to help you when shopping:

  1. Read labels. Look for the RSPO trademark to see if the palm oil in the product is certified sustainable.
  2. Download the Sustainable Palm Oil Shopping App from the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo. It allows you to scan product barcodes to determine if the company is “excellent,” “good,” or “needs improvement” in sustainable palm oil harvesting. Available in iTunes or Google Play.
  3. Download the RSPO app. It provides lists of products with sustainable palm oil. It also has a geo-location function that will help you find products near you, and will upload information about products at your local store. Available in iTunes or Google Play.
  4. If you don’t see the RSPO trademark and you can’t find the product on either app, check out the ingredients. Sometimes palm oil may be listed under other names. If you see one of these ingredients, and haven’t found any information on how the product uses sustainable palm oil, it probably is not sustainable.
    • PKO – Palm Kernel Oil
    • FP(K)O – Fractionated Palm Oil
    • OPKO – Organic Palm Kernel Oil
    • Palmitate – Vitamin A or Asorbyl Palmitate
    • Palmate
    • Sodium dodecyl Sulphate (SDS or NaDS)
    • Elaeis Guineensis
    • Glyceryl Stearate
    • Stearic Acid
    • Steareth -2
    • Sodium Lauryl Sulphate
    • Hydrated palm glycerides
    • Sodium isostearoyl lactylaye

We realize there are many issues to think about when shopping, but buying products with sustainable palm oil is a good place to start. As a conservation organization, the plight of rainforests and their inhabitants is critically important to us, and educating our guests is one way we work towards our mission of conserving wildlife and inspiring a passion for nature. We encourage you to do your research and educate your friends and family, too, on sustainable palm oil!

(Learn more about how you can be a part of Dallas Zoo’s Green Team.)

Below is a list of treats made with certified sustainable palm oil that help protect the homes of rainforest wildlife.


Categories: Conservation, Tigers | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Five Sumatran tigers you must get to know

Kipling, Melati, Hadiah, Sukacita and Manis are the true kings and queens of the urban jungle in the Big D. (Hate to break it to you, but the age-old expression that a lion is the “King of the Jungle” simply isn’t accurate. Lions inhabit savannas and grasslands, very rarely jungles.)

Model Melati strolls through our beautiful habitat.

A stunning Melati strolls through our beautiful habitat.

In the past year, we’ve welcomed three new Sumatran tigers, whose wild counterparts are seriously at risk. We sadly lost two of our beloved tigers, Sasha and Malayan tiger Batu, due to age-related health issues. Sasha proudly lived to be the second-oldest Sumatran tiger in a U.S. AZA-accredited zoo, at 21 years old.

Since tigers are solitary creatures by nature, you’ll never see more than one cat in our habitat at a time. When they’re not on exhibit, they’re living it up in their off-exhibit home, which includes outdoor exercise yards, pools, climbing structures, and tons of enrichment. Plus, a zookeeper staff of seven incredibly devoted folks who know these tigers better than anyone. And it’s time you get to know them, too. (There will be a quiz afterward, so pay attention.)

KIPLING: Born Nov. 24, 2006, Kipling is the male model of the clan, 308 pounds of majestically good-looking tiger. Born at the Sacramento Zoo, Kipling made his debut here in 2012. We’re often asked how people can identify our tigers. He can be pinpointed by the sea turtle-shaped marking on top of his head. (You see it?)


Kipling loves to play with enrichment items in the pool, and he’s exceptionally good at submerging them. When he’s done sleeping in each morning (such a luxury), he usually wakes up with a lot to say. From deep roars to high-pitched squeaks, we’ll let Kipling serenade us any day.

MELATI: Born May 24, 2006, Melati is 178 pounds of pure beauty and a healthy bit of sass. Nicknamed “Miss Whiskers”, this girl needs a contract with Maybelline for her thick, lengthy whiskers STAT. (Do they do that? Someone should get on that.)

_MG_3303-Melati tiger in wood wool

Born at the National Zoo in D.C., Melati arrived in 2009 and has been impressing us ever since. She’s awesome at training; during health checks she voluntarily presents her body parts like the boss she is. Enrichment items that rock her world include diving into a good ol’ pile of hoofstock hay.

HADIAH: Born Dec. 12, 2006, at the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle, Hadiah is everyone’s sweetheart. As a baby, she was hand-reared by zookeepers after being rejected by her mother at birth. Hadiah has remained very interested in people and will chuff (which is tiger for “you make me happy”), mumble and cheek rub towards them.

IMG_6867 Hadiah CS

At 182 pounds, she’s a very playful and inquisitive cat who loves to swim. Oh, and she’s a smarty-pants, too, picking up new training behaviors like they’re nothing. Basically, if you ever had a tiger BFF, you’d want it to be Hadiah. (To spot Hadiah, look for a distinct white birthmark on her right shoulder.)

SUKACITA: Born Aug. 5, 2013, at the National Zoo, Sukacita is the youngest of the bunch and the gal who makes the boys drool. Here on an AZA Species Survival Plan (SSP) breeding recommendation, Sukacita has been genetically matched with our newest male, Manis. (But she still has some growing up to do before any of that can happen!) Since her arrival in September 2015, Manis and Kipling haven’t stopped flirting with the pretty girl, who we call Suki for short.

IMG_7151 Suki Tiger CS


Sukacita loves to jump super-high to rip things down, like the planters keepers hang for enrichment. She’s still a little timid when exploring her new habitat, but you may be able to identify her by her very scruffy, fuzzy coat. As much as we’d love to brush her hair, she rocks it well.

MANIS: Born Sept. 13, 2004, at Woodland Park Zoo, Manis spent the majority of his life at the Kansas City Zoo. At 260 pounds, he’s our newest tiger, arriving last November. Manis is an easy cat to identify – just look for the luscious long hair around his neck. It may hurt lion Kamau’s feelings if we call it a “mane,” but it masquerades seriously as one! (Mental note: Double-check that Manis isn’t half-lion.)


This month, Manis explored his new habitat, the largest he’s ever seen. It made us all a tad emotional. (WATCH!) He’s definitely our best traveler in the tiger exhibit; he’ll navigate through the thick bamboo trees on the hill and take full dips in the pool, regardless of the temperature.

And for the first time, Manis is learning training behaviors to make health checks easier. He’s working super hard, and already has picked up a few things. Fun fact: Manis has been dubbed the “walking bulldozer.” This bulky feline will plow through any form of enrichment, and he even likes to rearrange the “furniture” in his home.

NEWS FLASH: Manis is actually Hadiah’s older brother! Although they weren’t littermates and will never recognize one another as siblings, we still think it’s pretty darn cool.

So next time you’re chilling at our tiger exhibit, we challenge you to test your Sumatran tiger identification skills. Who rocks long, thick whiskers? Who loves sea turtles so much that he got one tattooed on his head? Which male totally owns his lion-like mane?

You got this.

Categories: Tigers, Zookeepers | 3 Comments

10 animals who wear fall well

Forget the flannel, cable-knit sweaters, and scarves – no one knows fall style better than the animal kingdom. We’re laying down some fall fashion with 10 animals who make this season look better than ever.

1. African crowned cranes rock autumn’s trendiest hairdo like fall royalty. They sport a golden crown of feathers atop their head, distinguishing them from other cranes. Their red neck wattle adds a nice splash of color, too.

African Crowned Crane2. A creature that resembles a large, ripe tomato deserves a major autumn accolade. Tomato frogs are brightly colored to warn predators that they’re not good to eat – but we think they’re juicily good-looking.

_MG_9734 Tomato Frog CB3. Giraffes’ spotted coats prove nature has a sense of style. Within all nine giraffe subspecies, each individual’s markings are as unique as our fingerprints. The reticulated giraffe subspecies, which you’ll find at our Zoo, sports a dark coat with a beautiful web of fine white lines.

4. Because no other animal can model a bed of fall leaves as adorably as our African pygmy hedgehog. These tiny guys use their coat of spines to escape predators – they’ll curl up into a tight ball and their spines will raise, forming a protective barrier.

Hedgehog-African Pygmy5. African red river hogs got it goin’ on. From their striking coloration and prominent tassels on their ears, to the hairy white Mohawk running along their spine, these hogs wear fall like no other.

Red River Hog Hank6. Yellow and black has never looked so good. Amiright? Tiger salamanders’ colors and markings vary throughout their wide North American range, but their most common marking resembles the striped pattern of their big cat namesake.

Tiger Salamander7. Golden lion tamarins rock nature’s fieriest coat. These small monkeys get their name from their vibrant reddish-orange fur and the long hair round their face that forms a perfect mane.

IMG_1599 Golden Lion Tamarin CS8. The chestnut-breasted malkoha manages to flaunt every fall color flawlessly. Males and females have near identical plumage, and wear those red eye patches like bosses.

ChestnutBreastedMalkohaMilkyEyelashes9. Tigers totally own fall. Their symbolic stripes act as camouflage in high grasses or dense forests. Sumatran tigers, like our boy Kipling, have the darkest orange coat of any tiger subspecies.

Kipling10. Thanks to our fall-loving chimps, playing in foliage has never looked so good.

Categories: Birds, Chimpanzee, Giraffe, Mammals, Monkey, Reptiles and Amphibians, Tigers | Leave a comment

Save rainforest animals this Halloween


Categories: Conservation, Tigers | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

Deforestation is so last season

Stacy Lupori is a tiger, otter and primate keeper at the Dallas Zoo. She’s also an Action Team Leader for the Rainforest Action Network, where she helps coordinate campaigns to save Earth’s forests and the animals who call them home.

Cotton-top tamarin, Medusa. Her wild counterparts are critically endangered in Colombia.

Cotton-top tamarin, Medusa. Her wild counterparts are critically endangered in Colombia.

Did you know that some of the most popular clothing brands we wear use fabrics made from tree pulp? It’s an incredibly toxic process that’s destroying forests across the world and leaving the endangered animals that live there homeless.

As a zookeeper who cares for animals that are directly affected by this forest destruction, like Sumatran tigers, Bolivian gray titi monkeys and cotton-top tamarins, I feel it’s my obligation to ensure the survival of their wild counterparts.

The forests these fabrics come from include Indonesia (Borneo and Sumatra), Colombia, Brazil and even Canada. The trees are being clear-cut, processed into pulp, and used to create fabrics that are made into clothing by some of the world’s most popular brands. The incredibly harmful process known as dissolving pulp, creates a fluffy white material that gets spun into threads and woven into cloth.

Bolivian gray titi monkey, Cory.

Bolivian gray titi monkey, Cory.

This holiday season, the Rainforest Action Network (RAN) is asking consumers to consider not shopping at the stores dubbed as RAN’s “Fashion Fifteen.” These companies are at the forefront of deforestation for clothing. Through consumer pressure, our goal is to have these companies commit to remove forest destruction from their supply chains.

Zookeepers are critical educational and conservational messengers, acting as a voice for the animals they care for. Our animals are ambassadors for their species and they need help from those who want to protect the wild that’s left. Let’s save the remaining forests we have and the animals who live there by pledging to shop deforestation-free. For more information and to see the list of the “Fashion Fifteen,” click HERE.


Categories: Africa, Conservation, Education, Mammals, Monkey, Tigers, Zookeepers | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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