Success Story: Woodland Park Zoo

Woodland Park Zoo
5500 Phinney Ave. N. Seattle, WA 98103
206.548.2500 |

Woodland Park Zoo


quote The wise stewardship of our natural resources is imperative for the preservation of wildlife and wild places. It is also good business sense for the well-being of the animals in our care, our staff, volunteers and visitors. quote 2
— Dr. Deborah B. Jensen, President and CEO

With a mission to educate the public and inspire its visitors to learn, care and act to preserve wildlife and wild places, Woodland Park Zoo is increasingly incorporating environmentally friendly practices both into the way it conducts its business and into what it passes along to its 1 million-plus visitors each year. By establishing a number of proactive environmental initiatives, the zoo is decreasing its footprint and becoming a regional model for wise stewardship of its resources.

The zoo's programs encompass both eliminating hazardous wastes and reducing resource and energy use across zoo grounds. Staff has replaced the use of lead-based paints with latex paints in animal exhibits, including the use of paints with low VOC. It participates in the city's Graffiti Rangers, recycling paint and reducing wastes from up to 2,200 lbs per month to less than 220 lbs. The zoo Horticulture staff has replaced its chemical-based fungicides with natural methods and strategies to suppress disease while nourishing the plants. It also participates in a techno-trash program, recycling outdated computer components, CDs and DVDs.

In energy reductions, the zoo has reduced water usage by more than 84,000 CCF since 1990 and its new penguin exhibit, scheduled for a 2009 opening, will save 3 million gallons of water a year and use sustainable filtration features. Additionally, the zoo participates in Puget Sound Energy's Resource Conservation Manager program that provides software to track utility use, which will allow the zoo to reduce overall consumption and become a more efficient user.

In resource recycling or reduction, the zoo recycled more than 1.1 million pounds of materials in 2007, ranging from paper, glass and plastic to organics and asphalt – even baling twine from hay bales. Its food concessionaire replaced plastic utensils in its public food areas with compostable corn plastics and it also is part of the City's Food Waste Recycling Program. And the zoo continued with its renowned composting program Zoo Doo, which composts nearly 1 million pounds of herbivore animal wastes, creating a rich product used on zoo grounds and by area gardeners.

The zoo is also actively involved in spreading the word about resource conservation via its many public presentations, classes, Backyard Habitat workshops, and in classrooms around the state. It seeks to decrease its environmental impact even further as zoo staff collaborates with the University of Washington to assess its overall carbon footprint.