A GREEN ZOO

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

Environmental Sustainability

 

Energy & Carbon

Our goal is to reduce our carbon emissions by 25% below 2009 levels by 2022. We are working to reduce demand for energy, improve efficient energy use, and increase 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. The project, which launched in 2014, produces 60 kilowatts of energy from solar panels installed on building roofs at our Rain Forest Food Pavilion and Commissary buildings. Community members participated in the program by purchasing energy from the solar modules, and in return, receiving annual credits for the energy generate by their units.

HISTORIC CAROUSEL SOLAR MONITORING

Water

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. For example, our Humboldt penguin exhibit is uses natural rainwater recharging, constructed wetlands, geothermal heating to reduce water and energy waste.

Find out more about our Humboldt penguin exhibit

At our Banyan Wilds exhibit, we use pervious pavement at all visitor pathways. Stormwater filters into the ground instead of spilling into storm drains, and collects in a rain garden near the aviary. In addition, our Zoomazium building features an 8,000-square-foot vegetated “green roof” system. Over 20,000 plantings help minimize stormwater run-off by absorbing and filtering water before it flows off the roof.

Waste

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

Our signature example of turning waste into resource is our Zoo Doo program. The program composts some 625 tons of animal waste per year that would be otherwise dumped into the landfill. Zoo Doo recycles poop and bedding material from our non-primate herbivores and turns it into approximately 1,000 cubic yards of compost each year.

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

Learn more about our ZooDoo program

Transportation

Today 65% of our zoo fleet, from bicycles to hybrid electric trucks, is not powered by gas. This reduces carbon and also provides a better animal and guest experience through a cleaner and quieter environment.

In 2017, we installed six electric vehicle charging stations with help from ReachNow at BMW. Guests with electric vehicles get preferential parking and the security of having a full battery after their visit.

To invite guests to follow our lead, we offer a discount for visitors arriving via public transportation or bike

Sustainable Design

We strive to design healthy exhibits and spaces with low environmental impact high performance over time.

In 2006, our Zoomazium building was the first project at a U.S. zoo to receive Gold certification for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED). Our West Entrance also attained Gold certification for its energy-efficient design, low-flow water restrooms and FSC-certified wood.

Our talented and creative exhibit and facilities teams also re-purpose materials and manage construction impact. We seek materials with high durability, low VOC concentration and post-consumer recycled content. Our on-site metal, carpenter, exhibit tech and sign shops allow us to manufacture the majority of our exhibit content right here at the zoo. Some of our outdoor benches have been hand-crafted using felled trees from our grounds. In 2017, our in-house team designed a stunning live-edge corner desk and matching bench which see 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, air and sound quality at the zoo and surrounding areas.

Our Integrated Pest Management policy guides our ecological approach to minimizing pesticide use. Our 2.5-acre Rose Garden has been 100% organic and pesticide free since 2006. We build healthy soils, use smart watering practices and plant disease-resistant varieties. The garden hosts almost 200 varieties of roses, showcasing those that thrive in the Pacific Northwest climate.

Learn more about our rose garden

Biodiversity & Ecology

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

Our horticulture team works every day to maintain and enhance our natural landscape. The plants we choose are not only appropriate to the exhibit but also provide food for our animals and diversity of landscape for native wildlife. We also reduce water use and carbon emissions by using climate-responsive automated irrigation systems.

Social Responsibility

Human impact on the planet is profound and pervasive, affecting all lands, waters, and air, near and far. We are on a new mission to foster a broad social movement for the conservation of wildlife and wild places.

 

Health & Wellbeing

We ensure an environment for people and animals to thrive at the zoo and in our surrounding community.

Among other initiatives, we host a Senior Zoo Walkers program in partnership with Kaiser Permanente and Seattle Parks Department Lifelong Recreation to promote fitness and wellbeing among adults ages 55 and older. We also welcome two Early Stage Memory Loss walking groups to the zoo twice a week. This is a part of a 20-year-long relationship with the Washington chapter of Alzheimer’s Association to build community and provide access to nature.

Collaboration & Outreach

We build partnerships and collaborations around wildlife conservation to help build a sustainable future. One of our key programs is the Seattle Youth Climate Action Network (SYCAN). Launched in January 2015, we seek to empower teens to address climate change in their communities through education, leadership and action. We also work with the Green Seattle Partnership to support and host volunteer events that help restore the health of our neighboring Seattle forested parklands.

Education & Awareness

We foster opportunities for people to learn about and explore the natural world through powerful experiences that can drive lasting measurable conservation results. For example, we are proud of our Community Access Program, which makes experiences with wildlife possible many people, regardless of their economic circumstances. This is made possible through Seattle voters and the Seattle Parks Levy.

Economic Sustainability

 

Sustainable Finance

We are proud to commit 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. Sustainable investing prioritizes companies that achieve market-rate financial returns while pursuing positive social and/or environmental impact. Currently, we have invested 30% of our mutual funds in sustainable sources, with the goal to transition up to 50% of the zoo’s endowment to the same. In 2017, we worked with our partner Lincoln Financial to offer an environmentally-sustainable 403(b) retirement fund option to all staff.

Conservation Commerce

We check the goods and materials we buy against a range of criteria, from sourcing to end-of-life considerations. We also work 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 products support conservation efforts – be they social, ecological or environmental.

For example, guests can support our Tree Kangaroo Conservation Program by buying our YUS Conservation Coffee. Roasted by Seattle-based Caffe Vita, Papua New Guinea farmers grow the coffee while protecting endangered wildlife.

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