Zoo Keepers Helping the Environment Through the Three R’s
By Caitlyn Bruce
Happy Zoo Keeper Day! There are many things that zoo keepers feel passionately about… the most obvious being the animals in their care. But another thing that unites keepers is the importance of preserving the planet that we all call home! Pretty much every single animal species is affected in some way by human induced changes in the environment, whether it is climate change, pollution, destruction of habitat, etc. Zoo keepers recognize that zoos are a part of something bigger than ourselves and therefore recognize the need to help all animals, both in zoos and in the wild. There are many things that keepers do every single day to help the environment, including the three big R’s: REDUCE, REUSE, RECYCLE!
A huge way we now reduce our waste output at the zoo is by composting. Within the last few years we have started to work with a local composting company to compost some of the organic waste at the zoo. We have already been able to compost over 130 tons of material, imagine how much space that would have taken up in a landfill!
Zoo keepers are also masters of reusing old items for something else… a lot of times that involves enrichment for the animals. Paper bag left over from lunch? Suddenly it becomes a bag to hide treats in for the otters! Christmas is over and its time to take the tree down? Many animals love pine trees and use them in a variety of ways! Kids have grown up and no longer use those sturdy plastic outdoor kids’ toys? I know some large carnivores that would love to! Through both imagination and necessity, keepers try to find ways to get the absolute most use out of every item before it is disposed of.
And this is where the recycling comes in! Whenever they possibly can, zoo keepers avoid throwing things into the trash. From empty animal food cans to plastic toys that are too beat up to be used by the animals anymore, they try to recycle as many things as possible.
Remember though, you don’t have to be a zoo keeper to practice the three R’s. By reducing your own energy consumption and garbage production, reusing items around your house or work and recycling everything you possible can, you can help zoo keepers save our planet!