Sustainability on Show at Taronga Zoo

We must be the only group of tourists who gets as excited about bins as we do about big cats at the zoo.

But on last week’s field trip to Taronga Zoo, we were equally impressed by the energy and waste conservation scheme as the main attractions, the animals themselves.

Taronga Zoo is leading the way in environmental conservation, with a Sustainability Program that puts the focus on universal environmentally friendly practices. We received a behind-the-scenes tour of their facilities, finishing up at Australia’s first Marine Stewardship Council certified 100% sustainably sourced seafood restaurant, The View.

The lemurs of Taronga take the lion’s share of environmental benefits, with a playground constructed of upcycled telegraph poles, heat mats powered with thermal energy to keep warm (tapping UV rays so it works even on cloudy days), and recycled water to keep cool. They also lend their appeal as cute critters to inspire visitors to bin their rubbish appropriately, and give tips to avoid creating extra waste – like bringing your own on-the-go coffee cup.

Measures in other areas cover energy management, water use and reuse, waste management, animal food production, habitat restoration and a zoo planting scheme.

It’s not just the animals who see the effects of Taronga’s Sustainability Program: Over 1.2 million people visit the park each year and visitor engagement is a key element of the plan to make the Zoo a greener place for all.

Amongst the various features and exhibits we noticed plenty of Sydney Water’s Tap services. Sydney Water and Taronga Zoo have worked together for over 20 years after Sydney Water originally helped the Zoo to set up their wastewater and recycling system, and they now continue to be sustainability partners.

Together, they’ve recently revamped the Sustainability House in Taronga’s ‘Backyard to Bush’ exhibit. If you take a walk through the home, you’ll see murals that show you how you can do small things every day to help ensure that Sydney is a sustainable, liveable city.

Tap refill stations make it easy to keep hydrated without creating litter as visitors can top up their own reusable bottles at various points on the long walk up the hill. Let’s drink to that!

Sydney Water tap image 1b

CEO of KNSWB, David Imrie, says “Taronga Zoo is setting a national and global standard for wildlife education and conservation. As one of Sydney’s recognised and long-standing tourist attractions they are leading by example in actively reducing environmental impacts on a large scale.”

A safe and healthy haven for animals which respects them as members of our diverse global ecosystem, the Zoo offers an entertaining day out while inspiring and educating visitors to do the same.

Other highlights included running into these wonderful features alongside the animal exhibits:

  • Mobile phone recycling stations where visitors can pick up a deposit bag to post their old phones free of charge to be recycled and extract the mineral coltan from them to make new phones.
  • Exhibits featuring a range of information and reminders to educate and raise awareness of environmental issues.
  • The Taronga Piazza cafe building constructed of upcycled fence panels.
  • Home-grown herbs used in the cafe’s meal preparation, most of which is done on-site to reduce transport and packaging, while food waste goes straight to the chickens and coffee grounds go to the garden.
  • Bins with separated and signposted recycled and general waste capacities.

Check out snapshots of our favourite animals and sustainability features in our photo gallery.

One Response to “Sustainability on Show at Taronga Zoo”

  1. April 11, 2014 at 3:29 pm, Lesleigh said:

    A truly inspiring program.I am researching your sustainabilty processes as I am doing Animal studies its my assignment and I need to create a plan to increase each of the areas below .The use of renewable resources wind or water power.. The use of recycled resources such as paper.. How solar energy opportunites could be maximised..I am a middle age woman in a class of teenagers so I have a challenge on my hands…I love animals and love the zoo.My sons live in Sydney and the zoo is where we are going this easter…Keep up the fantastic work and hopefully I will get to have a bit of hands on with some animals just to say hello to them…ciao