The goal of environmental sustainability is to conserve and preserve our natural resources by managing them responsibly to prevent further environmental degradation. Through environmental sustainability, we're working to protect these natural resources for future generations.

We're proud of the conservation work we do, both around the globe and within our Zoos. In fact, Zoo New England, along with 50 other AZA-accredited zoos, received the 2016 AZA International Conservation Award for our collaborative efforts in the launch and support of the Sahara Conservation Fund.

Zoo New England's dedicated Conservation Committee is consistently looking for ways to improve sustainability efforts throughout our Zoos. Here are just a few of them:

Baling out on Landfills

Here at the Zoo, we're working to lessen the load on landfills and preserve our natural resources by compacting and recycling used cardboard. Cardboard can be recycled many times without losing its strength, so recycled cardboard is well suited for a second life in products like packaging materials and boxes. Thanks to our handy cardboard baler at Franklin Park Zoo, we're baling out on landfills!


Let's get Rolling: Use Boston's Bike Share Program to visit Franklin Park Zoo!

Hubway W FPZ SignSavvy and eco-conscious Zoo visitors can get VIP parking at Franklin Park Zoo's Hubway station, which allows users to rent and pick up a bike from one location and drop it off at another location. Franklin Park Zoo's location at the end of the Emerald Necklace provides riders with a green-friendly way to access the Zoo, while enjoying a ride through Olmsted's historic and beautiful parks.

Pests, Plants and Staying Pesticide-free

Organicgarden (1)Invasive Plant Removal

Invasive plants are non-native species that have been introduced, either intentionally or accidentally, into a new habitat. They can spread aggressively, taking over vegetation around them. Luckily, Zoo New England has a chemical-free method of combating these plants: our animals love to eat them! If you don't have a gorilla or giraffe to eat invasive plants in your backyard, you can learn more about controlling invasive plant species through other methods on Audubon's action sheet (pdf).

Integrated Pest Management

Both Franklin Park Zoo and Stone Zoo avoid the use of chemicals by using techniques of Integrated Pest Management (IPM). IPM is a science-based process used to minimize pests without the use of synthetic chemical pesticides. Rather than simply eliminating pests repeatedly, IPM looks to determine the reason for the pest’s presence and find a solution that reduces the risk to people and the environment. Once we know what environmental factors allow pests to thrive, we can create unfavorable conditions for them.

IPM techniques include:

  • Biological: Using natural enemies that attack or feed on pests
  • Cultural: Using particular gardening practices, like crop rotation or mulching to create unfavorable conditions for pests
  • Genetic: Planting pest-resistant plant varieties
  • Physical: Using covers, screens, etc.
  • Chemical: As a last resort, pesticides may be used

Read more about Franklin Park Zoo's Organic Garden Project which, of course, uses chemical-free IPM methods!

Plastic with a Purpose: Creating solutions for people with disabilities using corrugated plastic

Plasticrecycling BoxThe Zoo partners with the University of New Hampshire's Institute on Disability in repurposing discarded plastic into assistive technology solutions for individuals with disabilities.

The Zoos’ discarded plastic signs are used to make tablet stands and portable book holders for individuals with vision impairments and physical disabilities. The Institute has found numerous uses for repurposing corrugated plastic into hands-free feeding devices, wheelchair cellphone holders, portable foot rests, and more.

Recycling, Comingling & TerraCycling

Lemur RecycleBottle & Can Drive

If you're interested in not only helping the environment but contributing to a worthy cause, bring your empty bottles and cans to Stone Zoo during the Bottle and Can Drive --held the second Saturday of each month, April through October. Proceeds from the annual fundraiser benefit conservation efforts supported by Zoo New England. Check out the full schedule here.

Bulk Paper Recycling

Need a place to get rid of that pile of newspapers? Head on over to Stone Zoo, where you’ll find a receptacle for recycling bulk paper (located in the parking lot).

Comingling & TerraCycling

  • Guests at both Franklin Park and Stone Zoos are encouraged to recycle their used cans and bottles in receptacles throughout the Zoos.
  • The Zoo comingles trash, mixing paper, glass, plastic, and metal onsite.
  • Zoo New England works with TerraCycle, a company that collects hard-to-recycle items and converts them into consumer goods. Items are collected and shipped to the company’s corporate headquarters. TerraCycle pays all shipping costs and makes a donation to charity for collections received.

 EcocellRecycle your old cell phone at Admission Booths

Read more about Zoo New England’s work with EcoCell.

And for the Animals...

The animals benefit from recycling, too! We repurpose items like egg cartons, paper towel rolls and phone books for animal enrichment.  We use reusable containers for animals’ diets, and we even use shredded paper bags for animal bedding.

Stemming the Flow

Franklin Park Zoo recently replaced select faucets in our Bird's World building with low flow adapters. This saves the Zoo an estimated 3,000 gallons of water per year. Our Green Team is now targeting faucets in public restrooms, which will save an estimated 18,750 gallons of water per year.

The Scoop on Compost

We're literally knee-deep into composting at both Zoos! Our compost is used to fertilize vegetable gardens and flower beds throughout the Zoos, and clean compost from dining areas is used in gardens.

  • Learn more about Franklin Park Zoo's Organic Garden Project, and be sure to look for our compost sign during your visit to Stone Zoo, or download a copy for yourself!
  • Check out our Kids' Corner for a how-to guide for creating your own compost pile at home!


Vermicomposting: Putting our worms to work

Vermaculture BoxWhat you won’t see on your visit to the Zoo--both because it’s behind-the-scenes and it’s three feet underground--is our living, breathing vermicompost pit. Under the Zoo, we’ve got thousands of worms happily digesting treats like used paper towels, coffee grounds and leftover food waste (like pumpkins).  After they’re done decomposing our waste, worm compost is used as fertilizer for the Zoo’s Organic Garden Project. Produce from the garden is then used as food and enrichment for Zoo animals.  Thanks to our worm friends, vermicomposting is a win-win process!

Here's a little more on vermicomposting and how you can put your worms to work:

What is compost?

A key ingredient in organic farming, compost is organic matter that’s been decomposed and recycled as a fertilizer and soil additive. It’s great for gardening fresh produce.

Vermaculture Box1

Why worms?  

Also called vermicomposting, it’s easy, can be done indoors or out year-round, and helps the environment. Organic waste, like kitchen veggie scraps and garden clippings, make up 30 percent of what households currently send to landfills.  If we compost this waste instead, we recycle nutrients back into the earth, significantly reduce the volume of garbage destined for landfills, reduce the number of trucks on the road, and lessen the methane gas generated by landfills. The earth wins and the worm lives!  By the way, our composting heros are red worms and red wigglers (Eisenia foetida and Lumbricus rubellus).

Get Wiggling!

Worms need moisture, air, food, darkness, and warm (but not hot) temperatures.  Here are Seven Easy Steps:

Vermaculture Box3

1. Fill your empty worm bin with a variety of bedding (made of newspaper strips or leaves that will hold moisture and contain air spaces) and two handfuls of sand or soil.   

2. Add water to the bedding until the mixture feels like a wrung-out sponge. Make sure the bin is half-full of bedding. 

3. Gently lift the bedding to create air spaces.  This helps to control odors and gives the worms some wiggle room. 

4. Add the worms. 

5. Add food scraps by pulling aside some of the bedding, tossing in the scraps, then covering the scraps with bedding. 

6. Bury successive loads in different locations in the bin.ZNE 259X237 Boxes

 7. In one to three months, you’re ready to harvest your compost!

The rich compost your worms produce can be used as a soil conditioner for both indoor and outdoor gardening and to make potting soil—equal parts sifted compost, soil and vermiculite.  Give your plants a tea party by offering worm tea; the liquid produced as part of the composting process is an excellent plant fertilizer (dilute one part liquid with 10 parts water).