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Philadelphia Zoo Celebrates Earth Day by Pushing Its Green Commitment Higher -- Zoo and EPA Work Together on Sustainability

Release Date: 04/22/2010
Contact Information: Bonnie Smith smith.bonnie@epa.gov (215) 814-5543

PHILADELPHIA (April 22, 2010) – At a signing ceremony today, the Philadelphia Zoo, America’s first zoo, joined EPA’s Sustainability Partnership, a voluntary program that helps organizations reach their environmental goals.

EPA’s mid-Atlantic Regional Administrator Shawn M. Garvin, and Dr. Andrew Baker, Chief Operating Officer for the Philadelphia Zoo were on hand for the signing.

“We’re pleased that the Philadelphia Zoo is collaborating with EPA to become more sustainable. The zoo has a tremendous plan in place already and we look forward to working with them as they implement additional measures to help make Philadelphia a more sustainable city,” said Garvin.

The Philadelphia Zoo is thrilled, on this 40th anniversary of Earth Day, to team up with the EPA to celebrate and strengthen our outreach about environmental awareness,” said Dr. Baker. “Whether implementing green practices on site and encouraging our million plus visitors to do the same, replanting forests or rescuing amphibians and other species from extinction, the Zoo is committed to being a leader in global conservation, and working together with the EPA will only strengthen those efforts.”

Today’s signing ceremony took place at the zoo’s PECO Primate Reserve next to the Orangutan and Creatures of Habitat exhibit to highlight a new carbon-offset program called FootPrints. When some people travel, they choose to buy carbon credits to off-set the greenhouse gases and carbon dioxide emitted by their travel. These funds, through FootPrints, go to reforestation to maintain the orangutan habitat in Borneo. FootPrints is a Philadelphia Zoo program that EPA is promoting to regional transportation partners.

In joining EPA’s program, the zoo has committed to finding more ways to help the environment. Zoo officials have already completed a sustainability audit and implemented several environmental awareness programs.

Since 2008, the zoo has reduced its overall water usage by more than 50 percent and continues to integrate water reuse systems and sound storm water management practices on its site. The zoo has tripled its recycling capacity in the past year and is keeping more than four tons of material out of landfills each month through this program.

A food composting program is being developed and will be unveiled later this summer. The zoo’s next major construction project will strive for the US Green Building Council’s LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification and has a LEED accredited professional on staff.

Zoo staff strives to help its more than 1.2 million annual visitors understand why it is important to preserve wildlife and the environment we share.

In addition to the signing ceremony, over the course of three days of Earth Day celebrations at the zoo, 80 EPA employees will join 20 other Philadelphia-area organizations presenting special activities, exhibits and hands-on demonstrations for zoo visitors.

For information on the Sustainability Partnerships Program go to: www.epa.gov/region3/green.

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