Amazing Earth,  Indiana,  Travel

Going Green at the Zoo

In my opinion, summer vacation would not be complete without visiting a Zoo. This summer, we visited the Gulf Shores, Alabama Zoo, and one farther away, the Indianapolis Zoo. We really enjoyed seeing the animals and learning about new things, but one of the most important things I learned this summer was how the Zoos were going green. We have known that going green was a good thing to do for some time but what I really liked was finally seeing it put into practice. It made me realize that if they can do it, then all businesses and homeowners have no excuse not to do it too! Putting litter in its place is a good way to start. You all know the routine by now. Plastic with plastic, paper with paper, etc., but the Indianapolis zoo is going one step further trying to reduce water bottle plastic waste at their zoo by switching to glass and aluminum beverage bottles. Beverage items in vending machines throughout the Zoo are available in recyclable glass bottles and aluminum cans, reducing single-use plastic. I have seen coke and some other beverages available in glass and aluminum at my local grocery store. I have been thinking of switching myself but sometimes cost is an issue in my mind. It’s so hard to justify getting less product for a higher price, but if we could all start to make the switch, then eventually, plastic beverage bottles could decrease or maybe even disappear. 


The Zoo also promotes sustainability; for example, the 40,000-square-foot pavilion at the Indianapolis Zoo creatively manages rainwater and utilizes beautiful landscaping with a purpose. According to their website, it creates a space for guests to stay out of the elements regardless of the season while collecting rainwater. It also mimics a forest canopy — has an opening in the center where water drops onto metal panels, creating a “rain chain” that the water slowly follows before dripping onto the plants below. This helps water more gently reach the plants and avoids erosion. By choosing plants native to the area, the species will not only grow better but are also adapted to local soil and contribute to its health too. The structure is created with weathering steel which naturally oxidizes to a rust color. Therefore chemical coatings and paint can be eliminated. Plus, the patina dripping off the steel adds iron back into the soil. Both the Indianapolis Zoo and the Gulf Shores Zoo have herb gardens that they grow themselves using waste from the animals that have been composted and added back into the soil in which the plants grow. Pictures of my dog, you know what is now in my head?? 

One of my favorite things at the Indianapolis Zoo was the green roof located at the Orangutan center. The green roof catches approximately 70 percent of an average day’s rainfall, while the remaining runoff goes into 10,000-gallon storage tanks that are used for irrigation at the Zoo as needed. At approximately 6,400 square feet, the Center’s green roof provides ecological, economic, and aesthetic benefits now and for years to come. You can look up high to see this special garden in the sky! (Indianapolis Zoo, https://www.indianapoliszoo.com/conservation/green-initiatives/).  I think it would be lovely to see nice green roofs in my neighborhood instead of all these artificial ones. If only our HOA would agree…. food for thought, right??

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