Sustainable Zoo Practices

Sustainable Zoo Practices

In addition to fostering awareness of the importance of conservation and environment-friendly behaviors, we strive to use best practices in everyday operations at the Zoo.

Tell us what you do at home to be "green!" Post to our Facebook page and share your great ideas with all our fans, too!

What We Do
RWP Zoo Green Team

A group of dedicated Roger Williams Park Zoo staff meets monthly to measure our own institutional environmental efforts to maintain a sustainable workplace. The team's mission is to make the Roger Williams Park Zoo an environmental ambassador for the community, its visitors, staff, and volunteers by enhancing, fostering, and inspiring green practices such as recycling, waste reduction, natural resource conservation, and education.

Green team successes in 2019:

  • Infrastructure:
    • Zoo-wide Exterior LED lighting system replacement with remote controls that monitor usage
    • Zoo-wide Interior LED light replacement
    • Replacement of dump and fill pools with new filter systems (Elephants and Flamingo)
  • Waste Diversion
    • Composting all animal bedding a waste
    • Composting all food scraps from Zoowide events
    • Marker recycling
    • Reusable cutlery
    • Aluminum canned water instead of plastic single use water bottles for sale on Zoo grounds
    • Refillable water bottle stations
    • Zero trash internal events
    • E-waste recycling
    • Cigarette butt recycling
    • Juice pouch recycling
    • Zoocamp Trash Challenge
    • Vinyl glove recycling in Ambassador Animal programs
  • Carbon Reduction for visitors
    • Bicycle racks at Zoo and Carousel
    • Hand Dryers instead of paper towels (in some restrooms)
    • Electric charging stations for vehicles

Green team successes in 2017:

  • Zoobilee! Feast with the Beasts 2017 was the Zoo's greenest event on record - composting just under a ton of food scraps which otherwise would have been landfill bound. 

Green team successes in 2016:

  • New, comprehensive recycling policy including e-waste and Styrofoam
  • Recycling stations at Sophie Danforth Building, Meller-Danforth Education Center, and John J. Palumbo Veterinary Hospital
  • Worked with Terracycle
  • Green events captured more than two tons of organic material which was sent to a local composting facility
  • Worked with Recycle Together RI Initiative
  • Worked with RI Worm Farmers Cooperative
  • Recycled cups at the Zoo's annual Brew at the Zoo fundraising event
  • Continued to install light and water sensors in staff and public areas to reduce water and electricity usage
  • Staffed information tables at special events including Party for the Planet and Spooky Zoo to educate the public about green practices
  • Reusable cups now sold by Zoo restaurants
  • The elimination of plastic bags at Zoo gift shops
  • In efforts to help combat the Palm Oil crisis, the RWP Zoo Green Team and the El Paso Zoo signed a letter from Robert Hii and the Orangutan Alliance that inspired the State Government of Sabah to assert its claim as the sole owner of Riparian habitats. Government officials are now removing illegally planted palm trees.
New Construction Means Higher Standards

Newer pools for animals like anteater and elephants have filtering systems to purify water. In the past we had to empty pools every month and refill them with fresh water. We are saving about 1,000,000 gallons of water per year just in the new elephant pool!

As we build new exhibits, we are meeting the most recent federal energy guidelines

  • New heating systems recover and recirculate warm air instead of releasing it outdoors.
  • We use energy efficient motors and light fixtures.
  • The installation of Structural Insulated Panels (foam covered with thin wood panels) helps reduce the amount of lumber used in constructing new buildings. They also provide better R-Value, which means they lower energy usage, which ultimately lowers carbon dioxide emissions.

We have comprehensive procedures for recycling paper, cardboard, cans, bottles, clear plastic bags and wooden pallets. These are collected on Zoo grounds, and then delivered to the Rhode Island Resource Recovery.

We deliever the materials below to appropriate recycling or processing facilities:

  • Recyclable light bulbs (non-incandescent)
  • Batteries (including single-use batteries; batteries for electronics such as cellphones, lap tops, digital cameras, cordless phones, tools, etc.); fire alarm batteries; 2-way radio batteries; Car and  truck batteries; and golf cart batteries)
  • E-waste such as computers, monitors, hard drives, printers, copiers and the like
  • Ink cartridges and cell phones
  • Waste oil and automotive filters
  • Oil-based paints and varnish
  • Scrap metal
  • Scrap asphalt or cement
  • Non-biological hazardous wastes such as turpentine, antifreeze, disinfectant, pool chemicals

All Veterinary staff at Roger Williams Park Zoo regulate all veterinary-related biological and medical waste and storage. All first aid-related biological and medical waste and storage is regulated by our contracted Emergency Medical Technicians