How An Ohio Zoo Aims To Get To "Net Zero" by 2025

Cool ideas to feed animals and power the facility will help them be 'no waste' when it comes to energy and water.

If you're a zoo where a lot of your animals eat things like grass, leaves, twigs and tree bark, where exactly do you go grocery shopping? If you're the Cincinnati Zoo, you grow it yourself. Tjat's just one of the things they're doing to achieve the goal of "net zero" energy, waste and water by 2025, their 150th anniversary.

Cincinnati Zoo Facebook page

The Zoo and Botanical Garden's 600-acre Bowyer farm in Warren county, OH, is a key component in that goal. That's where they plant what they call "browse," the tree trimmings and other tree waste and greens that animals like elephants and giraffes feed on, like baby Fenn.

( Cincinnati Zoo Twitter page )

To build that food supply, the zoo will plant as many as 8,000 new trees at the farm over the next year, among them trees like oak and willow. "We are layering them in over time," Mark Fisher, the zoo's director of facilities, planning and sustainability, told the Cincinnati Enquirer. They're already planting grasses including alfalfa to feed zoo animals. Sure beats buying grasses, or following utility crews to pick up the limbs and trees they cut down, which is what the zoo used to do!

Providing fresh cuttings from the farm helps keep animals from eating their habitats.Cincinnati Zoo Twitter page

In addition to planting renewable animal food, the zoo is building a large solar array on the western part of the farm. These solar panels should produce renewable energy equal to four times the amount of energy the zoo itself uses, so the they'll be able to sell the extra to local power companies.

"The whole point is to produce as much power or clean, renewable services than we are consuming," Fisher told the Enquirer. "When we turn this switch on, it will be the largest array" in the region.

Zoo fans of all ages can volunteer! Cincinnati Zoo Blog

Sounds like the zoo is barking up the right tree (pun intended) when it comes to becoming good stewards of the environment. If you feel inspired, you can join them. Volunteers make up a big part of the effort, planting the trees and grasses and harvesting the food items ( click here for more information on how to volunteer). Donors are also playing a big part by supporting the zoo's $150 million fundraising campaign, More Home to Roam (click here to donate ). And of course you can support and enjoy the zoo and botanical gardens by visiting. Click here to find out days and hours of operation.

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