Conservation: The management of natural resources to avoid destruction of species and habitats. Conservation involves maintaining and protecting habitats, controlling the harvesting of natural populations, and seeking to reduce pollution and other threats to organisms resulting from human activity.

The Toledo Zoo is committed to becoming a role model for the community through ecologically sound, environmentally sensitive, energy efficient and financially responsible green practices. The result of this effort will be the conservation of wildlife by limiting the detrimental impact on the environment and educating our staff, suppliers, contractors, and the community on green practices.

The solar walkway at the main parking lot

Energy Management / Energy Conservation Initiatives

  • Installation of a wind turbine at the main parking lot entrance to generate power for the parking lot booths (seen above)
  • Installation of our solar walkway at the main parking lot entrance to generate additinoal power for zoo use and energy cost reduction
  • Installation of geothermal wells near the aquarium to use geothermal heat to help keep the aquarium
  • Energy savings and feasibility study for the Zoo campus using combined heat and power co-generation equipment
  • Electric Peak Shaving Initiative
    · Energy Management and Conservation Group (EMCG) to study ways to manage and control our energy usage.
    · Electric peak shaving program for Arctic chiller operations. Zoo wide Power Monitoring/Load Shed program.
    · Zoo now has the capability to shed electric load automatically during periods of high use.
  • Building Automation System to monitor and control HVAC equipment in nearly fifty percent of our buildings.
  • Majority of exterior site lighting, including Lights Before Christmas is connected to a software based management system allowing the Zoo to control lighting operation times.
  • Master Plan 2020 incorporates a campus Ecology Strategy to make the Zoo a more sustainable and energy efficient facility
  • Pursuing an option in Masterplan 2020 to replace the aging boilers within the Aquarium and Greenhouse with combined heat and power co-generation equipment.

Sustainable Palm Oil Choices

Many candies, cookies, crackers and even shampoos and beauty products contain palm oil harvested from rainforests in Borneo and Sumatra, home to the world’s only wild orangutan populations.

In recent years the increased demand for palm oil has led to an increase in palm tree plantations. These plantations are created by clear cutting rainforests and burning the remains, sending large amounts of the greenhouse gas CO2 into the atmosphere. As the rainforest is cleared, the orangutans’ habitat is being rapidly destroyed— orangutans could be extinct in the wild within 10 years. You can help by avoiding products that are made with palm oil. Click here to download our Wise Choices card (PDF format) so that you have a reference while you are shopping.

The Toledo Zoo is working to ensure that Pumpkin Path and Little Boo candy is not made with palm oil that’s harvested unsustainably. We try to choose candies and snacks that either do not contain palm oil or that use palm oil that is sustainably harvested. If you do not see some of your favorite candies this year, it is because after a great deal of research, we believe that they are not produced with sustainable palm oil.

For more information about sustainable palm oil, click here or view an informative article from Cheyenne Mountain Zoo.

Seafood Watch Program

With demand for seafood growing, the ocean’s supply of fish is shrinking. Fortunately, there’s something we can all do to help stop this disappearing act.

The Toledo Zoo’s Catering department actively refers to the seafood watch program when making decisions to purchase seafood. Your consumer choices also can make a difference. Click here to learn more about the Seafood Watch Program, including which seafood choices support efforts for healthier ocean wildlife and the environment. Look for the Seafood Watch Guides to help you select seafood that’s plentiful and comes from environmentally responsible sources. Your wise choices will help protect the oceans—and keep fish in the picture.

Zoo keepers reuse these items for animal enrichment:

  • Shredded office paper for   bedding
  • Cardboard boxes
  • Fire hose
  • Plastic buckets,  yogurt cups
  • 55 gallon barrels
  • Cardboard tubes/Carpet   tubes
  • Perfumes and colognes
  • Sheets and towels for orangutan bedding
  • Phone books
  • Feed bags
  • Oatmeal canisters

polar bear

Paper Reduction

  • Employees encouraged to print and copy 2-sided
  • Many employees have changed margins on Microsoft Word to 1 inch
  • Zoo wide memos now emailed
  • Intranet developed for information exchange
  • Catalog reduction: volunteers calling to remove duplicates from mailing lists
  • Catalog/magazine recycling
  • Office paper is shredded to be used as bedding for primates
  • Zoo maps are recycled

Vehicle Idling

Zoo has reduced vehicle idling. Employees turn cars and trucks off when leaving a vehicle. Stickers were placed on steering wheels to remind staff to turn vehicles off.

Styrofoam reduction

  • Zoo plate special in Employee Kitchen
  • Changed from Styrofoam to more environmentally friendly cups and plates in the concessions areas
  • Employees given coffee mugs to use
  • As of Summer 2006, lemonade cups will be made from corn product that degrades in the landfill
  • Refill cups have coupons to encourage people to reuse them   rather than buy drinks in disposable cups

Light bulbs

  • Have changed many of our lights to compact fluorescent bulbs that use less energy than regular incandescent
  • Christmas lights are being replaced with LED lights that use 90% less energy

Green cleaners

  • Have changed many of our cleaners and chemicals to environmentally friendly products that carry the green seal
  • Investigating   new lines of green chemicals with the Green Seal

New employee training on conservation practices

  • Written in part-time employee handbook


  • Shade-grown coffee in bakery
  • Shopping bags will soon be sold in gift shop to reduce plastic bag consumption
  • Zoo Teens:multiple outreach conservation projects in the region
  • Purchasing sustainable seafood for catered events
  • Use of recycled materials in construction projects, such as Nature’s Neighborhood
  • Careful selection of eco-friendly materials for construction and maintenance

General Recycling

  • Cardboard
  • Motor oil
  • Plastic
  • Batteries
  • Glass
  • Aluminum
  • Solvents
  • Steel
  • Paper
  • Paint
  • Cell phones
  • Cooking oil
  • Elephant Manure
  • Trees
  • Branches
  • Leaves
  • Annual plant material

How Can You Help?

Reduce your impact on landfills and the environment by following the 3 Rs: reduce, reuse, and recycle.

Reduce waste by:

• Purchasing long-term use items rather than disposable items.

• Bring your own bags when shopping to reduce the number of plastic bags that can end up in landfills. Currently the average American family brings home 64 palstic bags each week!

• Purchase products with environmentally responsible packaging.

• Reduce energy usage by replacing your regular incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs.


• Reuse coffee mugs at work to reduce Styrofoam in our landfills.

• Reuse canvas bags for shopping to reduce our consumption of plastic bags.

• Use cloth napkins instead of paper, and sponges or rags instead of paper towels. It’s good for the environment and for your wallet!

• Join in your area to pass on unwanted but still usable items.

• Use a refillable water bottle and a water filter rather than buying bottled water at the store.

• Avoid using disposable cleaning items that are thrown out and end up in landfills. Instead stock up on reusable dust rags and use regular mops, toilet brushes, etc.

Recycle plastic, glass, aluminum, and paper through Toledo’s curbside recycling program. In 2003 we increased our recycling efforts so that 72 million tons of waste did not end up in landfills—almost double the amount from 1990.

More info:

12 Ways for Adults to be “Green”

12 Ways for Kids to be “Green”

10 Ways to be “Blue”