Welcome to the Emerald City. Our award-winning sustainability efforts are a testament to Seattle's national green leadership.



NEW! E-Trash Recycling

Recycle your old cell phones and handheld devices to help save gorillas!

Woodland Park Zoo is proud to partner with ECO-CELL to collect and recycle e-waste. This helps reduce the demand for Coltan, an ore used in phones and other electronic devices. Coltan mines in the Democratic Republic of the Congo destroy habitat critical for the survival of endangered species, including the western lowland gorilla.

Bring your used handheld electronics to the zoo for recycling! We accept cell phones, MP3 players, handheld games, e-readers, digital still and video cameras, laptops, GPS, portable hard drives and more. Use the drop-off boxes, pictured here, are available for collection of items at both the South and West zoo entrances. ECO-CELL recycles all items we receive using the best technologies for recycling e-waste.

We’re also happy to announce that the litigation department of the Seattle law firm Lasher, Holzapfel, Sperry & Ebberson is helping save gorillas too! For every device we receive Lasher will donate $1 towards gorilla conservation. Woodland Park Zoo will use funds from ECO-CELL and from the Lasher law Firm to support the Mbeli Bai Gorilla Project and other great ape conservation programs.

Green Team

Our Green Team works with every department across the zoo to influence and advocate for sustainability practices on zoo grounds and beyond, in collaboration with our partners.

Woodland Park Zoo is home to one of the longest standing Green Teams in the industry. Founded in 2001 with a mission to focus on water and energy conservation, our Green Team is a multi-disciplinary group of zoo employees who pursue, promote, and encourage sustainable daily practices at and beyond the zoo. We work closely with our Education, Interpretive and Communications staff to drive both internal and external conservation action and behavioral change. A recent example is the phasing out of single use plastic bottles at the zoo.


Woodland Park Zoo was a founding member of EnviroStars, a King County initiative supporting organizations in reducing hazardous materials and waste in order to protect public health, municipal systems and the environment.

In 2017, we renewed our certification under the expanded EnviroStars program. As an EnviroStars “Champion”, the zoo is recognized for taking sustainable actions through saving energy and water, reducing waste and pollution, choosing safer products and cutting greenhouse gas emissions.



As the region’s premier zoo and aligned with Seattle’s Climate Action Plan goals, we aspire to become our community’s living showcase of sustainability. Our Sustainable Zoo Plan provides a roadmap for preserving and enhancing natural resources that sustain wildlife and the human economy. Our progress is thanks to our public partners, King County voters and the Seattle Park District investment, passionate staff, and committed volunteers and guests.


View the Sustainable Zoo Plan

Environmental Sustainability


Energy & Carbon

WPZ is committed to reducing our carbon emissions by 25% below 2009 levels by 2022.

We are working towards meeting our carbon reduction goal through reducing demand for energy, improving the efficiency of energy use, and increasing the supply of energy by low-carbon means.

The Community Solar on Phinney Ridge project is an example of how we are meeting our energy needs through on-site renewable generation.


Our approach to water management at the zoo spans a diverse range of exhibit and operational uses, including the zoo’s many pools and streams, domestic and drinking water, irrigation, green infrastructure, stormwater retention and filtration, and constructed wetlands.

Our Humboldt penguin exhibit is an award-winning example of reducing the demand for water and energy using natural rainwater recharging, biofiltration and geothermal heating.

At our Banyan Wilds exhibit, all visitor pathways are made with pervious pavement. Stormwater is infiltrated into the ground instead of spilling into storm drains, and a demonstration rain garden can be explored, located near the tropical aviary.

Our Zoomazium building features an 8,000-square-foot vegetated roof system which provides wildlife habitat alongside an extension of the surrounding forest canopy. Over 20,000 plantings help minimize stormwater run-off by absorbing and filtering water before it flows off the roof membrane.

Find out more about our Humboldt penguin exhibit


We divert over 75% of waste from landfill thanks to zoowide recycling and our popular Zoo Doo composting program.

At Woodland Park Zoo, we aim to reduce on-site waste generation and provide opportunities for recycling and re-use opportunities throughout our operations as well as for our guests. An ultimate example of turning waste into resource is our Zoo Doo program. Woodland Park Zoo began this composting program in 1985 as a resource conservation program and as a way for the zoo to save money on disposal fees. Now the program composts some 625 tons of animal waste per year from our herbivorous animals that would be otherwise dumped into the landfill at an annual expense of more than $90,000. Zoo Doo recycles manure and bedding materials from the zoo’s non-primate herbivores and turns it into approximately 1,000 cubic yards of the most exotic compost in the Pacific Northwest.

Woodland Park Zoo Doo is available at the ZooStores year round and available in bulk during twice annual Fecal Fests.

Learn more about our ZooDoo program


We are continually exploring ways to reduce emissions of how we get around on zoo grounds. Today 65% of our zoo fleet is alternatively fueled, including bicycles, workman trikes, electric carts and hybrid electric trucks. This helps not only reduce costs and carbon, but also provides a better guest experience—cleaner air and a quieter environment for strolling through the zoo.

To entice guests to follow our lead, the zoo offers a discount for visitors arriving via public transportation or bike. In 2017, we installed six electric vehicle charging stations through a partnership with ReachNow, the mobility branch of the BMW group. Guests with electric vehicles get preferential parking and the security of knowing they will have a full battery after their visit.

We offer a discount for visitors arriving via public transportation or bike

Sustainable Design

At Woodland Park Zoo, we strive to design healthy exhibits and spaces with low environmental impact and efficient resource use that demonstrate high performance over time.

Our Zoomazium building and living roof, which opened in 2006, was the first project among zoos nationally to receive Gold certification from the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED). Our West Entrance followed suit in 2010 also attaining Gold certification for its energy-efficient design, low-flow water restrooms and FSC-certified wood. Forms and materials were carefully considered to provide plaza and connecting buildings that are refined in form, durable in materiality and consistent with our conservation mission.

Beyond our flagship buildings and spaces, our talented and creative exhibit and facilities teams are constantly coming up with ways to re-purpose materials and manage construction impact. We purposefully seek out materials with high durability, low VOC (volatile organic compounds) concentration and post-consumer recycled content. We have a metal shop, carpenter shop, exhibit tech shop and sign shop  on site that allow us to manufacture the majority of our exhibit content right here at the zoo. Many of the outdoor benches you see on grounds have been hand-crafted using felled trees from Woodland Park Zoo grounds. In 2017, our in-house team designed a stunning live-edge corner desk and matching bench which you can come visit firsthand in Zoomazium.

Learn more about our Zoomazium building

Pollution Prevention

Our approach to pollution prevention includes comprehensive chemical management and minimizing our impact on groundwater, local air quality, and acoustic quality at the zoo and surrounding areas.

Our 2.5-acre Rose Garden has been 100% organic and pesticide free since 2006. Using the natural approach means building healthy soils, practicing smart watering and planting disease-resistant varieties. The garden hosts nearly 200 varieties of roses, showcasing those that thrive in the Pacific Northwest climate.

Learn more about our rose garden

Biodiversity & Ecology

The zoo’s botanical collection is an important element of the zoo, and our dense tree coverage is vital to the neighborhood urban ecosystem. Our collection includes more than 92,000 plants and trees representing more than 1,300 species. Since the 1950s, we have witnessed a four-fold increase in the zoo’s tree canopy and other plantings, which help filter carbon emissions, produce oxygen and serve as habitat to local wildlife.

Our horticulture team works hard every day to maintain and enhance our collection. Plant choices are made not just in the context of being appropriate to the exhibit but also to provide food for the zoo’s animals and diversity of landscape for native wildlife. Our Integrated Pest Management policy guides our ecological approach to minimizing pesticide using non-chemical and biological measures where practical. The team has also driven significant reductions in water use and carbon emissions by transitioning towards climate-responsive automated irrigation systems as well as replacing gas powered tools to battery powered where appropriate.

Economic Sustainability


Sustainable Finance

Woodland Park Zoo is proud to put our money where our values are through a commitment to sustainable procurement of goods to a range of socially responsible investment strategies.

In 2016, our Board of Directors approved a Strategic Sustainable Investment plan for the zoo’s endowment, in an effort to align more closely with our mission. Sustainable investing prioritizes companies that achieve market-rate financial returns while pursuing positive social and/or environmental impact. We are currently at 30% invested in environmentally sustainable screened mutual funds, with the goal to transition up to 50% of the zoo’s endowment to the same. In 2017, the zoo also began offering an environmentally-sustainable 403(b) retirement fund option to all staff.


Conservation Commerce

Woodland Park Zoo works closely with our Zoo Store partner Event Network to bring merchandise to our guests and staff that help save wildlife and wild places through responsible supply chains. Our conservation commerce approach means that purchases made in our stores directly  help support conservation efforts – be they social, ecological or environmental.   

Help support the Papua New Guinea YUS Conservation Area by purchasing Caffe Vita coffee grown by local farmers and their families. Purchase hand-crafted woolen items from communities in Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia and Pakistan empowered by the Snow Leapord Trust. Reduce plastic waste in our environment by wearing a recycled content 4Ocean Bracelet -  for every bracelet purchased one pound of trash will be removed from the ocean and coastlines.

Learn more about conservation commerce and how you can help save wildlife by visiting our ZooStore.

In addition, the zoo supports sustainable purchasing of goods through evaluating a range of criteria from sourcing and supply to certification and end-of life considerations. Visit our sustainable palm oil page for information on how to make smart choices and save forests, including a sustainable palm oil shopping guide.