Passion and Action for Wildlife (P.A.W)
Creating a strong conservation plan
We envision a world in which the KCZoo contributes significantly to preserving the diversity of species and conserving resources on earth while influencing others to do the same.
Quarters for Conservation
It starts with just a quarter and continues to build. Kansas City Zoo’s ongoing commitment to conservation will be shown in dollars and cents in 2015. This year a portion of each admission ticket and membership purchase will directly benefit KCZoo sponsored conservation programs .
Twenty-five cents of each general admission ticket sold will be allocated to preserving species at home and around the globe. Additionally, from each FOTZ Membership purchased, a minimum of two dollars will be apportioned; Sustaining level FOTZ Memberships and above contribute even more with a five or ten dollar designation. These funds will allow the KCZoo to continue to make a real impact in wildlife conservation locally, regionally and globally.
- In 2015, nearly $200,000 was raised from the conservation portion of admission and memberships sales
- Round up programs in the gift shops and food and beverage locations along with animal paintings sold in the gift shop accumulated almost $16,000
- Zoo Run 2015 revenue was over $23,000 for conservation – the largest ever! Donations from the WOW! Wings of Wonder bird show and coin vortex displays brought in over $11,000
- Over $250,000 raised for conservation in 2015 – Stellar First Year!
- 8 Conservation Grants Awarded from money raised in 2015
One-Year Grants were awarded for:
Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil Membership (RSPO), initiated by Cinnamon Williams, Animal Curator Goal: To have a voice in determining the standards for sustainable palm oil
RSPO, a not-for-profit association, is the only multi-stakeholder organization with a global reach that is exclusively focused on making sustainable palm oil the norm. With over 2,000 members globally, they represent 40% of the palm oil industry covering all sectors of the global commodity supply chain.
Last year was the 13th annual round table discussion with many encouraging findings. A few highlights included:
An industry commitment uptake towards 100% Certified Sustainable Palm Oil in countries such as Belgium, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, the UK and very recently, Italy (with the newly announced Alliance for Sustainable Palm Oil). Certification area increased by 9%; meaning palm oil businesses are following rules and criteria set forth by the RSPO. Main palm oil producing countries of Indonesia and Malaysia continued to make headway on certification and there has been an increase of 37 percent in certified area in Africa, and over 30,000 hectares were certified in the rest of Asia-Pacific.
“RSPO Next” is their latest initiative to raise the bar higher by asking companies to reach standards that will recognize their efforts at promoting best practices around NO deforestation, NO fire, NO planting on peat and respect for human rights and transparency.
Project EcoCell, coordinated by Stacia Peroni, Animal Supervisor Goal: To increase efforts of the collection of cell phones in the name of conservation
EcoCell, an AZA preferred company, is the premiere handheld electronics recycling program for environmentally minded organizations. A mobile phone can contain over 40 elements including heavy metals and persistent organic pollutants. These elements pose a concern to both the health of humans and the environment. Eco-cell pays the Zoo to help divert toxins from landfills and reclaim these precious metals. A 2015 report released by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) shows Consumer Electronics (CE) are now the fastest declining portion of the municipal waste stream, with a nearly 4% decline in waste generation over the previous year.
Cell phones are connected to wildlife via an ore called Coltan (columbitetantalite). Coltan is a source of the element tantalum which is an essential coating for components of cell phones. This ore is found in great quantity in the Congo, home to the critically endangered gorilla and chimpanzee. These animals and other species are being killed by rebel bands mining this ore. The U.N. has reported that in the past five years the eastern lowland gorilla population in the Congo has declined 90%.
Pollination Possibilities: Project Monarch Butterfly, activated by Nick Phillip and David Martinez, Education Department and the VolunTEENs Goal: Modify and upgrade the Zoo’s current Monarch Way Station and elevate education messaging as to why Monarch Butterflies are important
This project aims to promote a sustainable cooperation with local species of flora and fauna, using Monarch Butterflies as a flagship species to engage and inspire visitors to simple and obtainable conservation actions. Threats to the Monarch Butterfly have garnered international attention throughout North America. In May 2015, the Obama Administration established a ‘Pollinator Health Task Force’ to develop a national strategy to promote the health of pollinators like the monarch.
Through this opportunity the Monarch Waystation will be reformed, improving its stability and defining clear boundaries for its use. It will be expanded into the surrounding area to allow for additional planting and landscaping elements. A series of signs will be added giving visitors information on monarch butterflies, pollinators and their importance, as well as easy ways to get involved in native habitat rehabilitation. Training on garden care and maintenance will be given to the VolunTEENs with guidance by the Zoo’s Horticulture department and/or other community partners. The expansion of the current Monarch Waystation will also include branding as a wildlife-friendly pollinator garden and will seek additional certification as a “Garden for Wildlife” by the National Wildlife Federation.
Identification of Chytrid Fungus in Native Toads and Frogs, administered by Dr. Kirk Suedmeyer, Director of Animal Health Goal: Investigate the incidence of chytrid fungus on Zoo grounds
This one year study involves a team of staff and volunteers swabbing local amphibians for chytrid fungus. Geo tracking, species and gender determination and individual photo documentation will be performed on all toads and frogs caught. All animals will be released unharmed where they were found. Swabs obtained will be analyzed to determine the incidence and prevalence of this fungal organism on Zoo grounds.
In 2013 Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, discovered about a third of the ponds in their study are infected with chytrid, the notorious skin fungus that has sickened and killed amphibians in other parts of the world. In amphibians, chytrid infects and damages the skin, which amphibians use to breathe and absorb water. Once the fungus takes hold, it causes a disease called chytridiomycosis, which is usually fatal.
Chytrid is thought to infect virtually all amphibians and has proven to cause severe population declines and extinctions. This study will determine the commonness on grounds. Strict standards are in place to protect the Zoo’s exhibit amphibians, but knowledge of this organism on grounds will help formulate potential treatment options and reevaluation of potential risks to the animals.
Amphibian Allies, overseen by Kelly Martin, Education Goal: To elevate the Zoo’s participation in the Toad and Frog Watch programs into Education’s curriculum and more specifically overnights
Frogs and toads are an important part of local biodiversity. Conserving biodiversity is essential to the health of the planet and the welfare of humankind. Frogs and toads have a special role to play in keeping the environment healthy. With their semi-permeable skin and their ability to live “on the edge” between water and land, frogs and toads are very sensitive to pollution and other environmental changes. Missouri has at least 26 species of frogs and toads all with distinct sounds, markings and adaptations.
By participating in the Frog and Toad Watch programs, the Kansas City Zoo will be helping scientists: track climate change using phenology (the study of times of recurring natural phenomena) data, identify positive and negative population trends and learn about the range and distribution of frogs and toads.
Wyoming Toads Reintroduction Program, project leader Sean Putney, Director of Living Collections Goal: Continue the efforts with the Wyoming Toad Species Survival Program (SSP) that have been underway for several years onsite and in the field to increase their population
Indicators of change in the environment, toads and frogs can provide clues to a healthy, sustainable, genetically diverse ecosystem, necessary for many species survival. In 1994, Wyoming toads were virtually extinct in the wild. They faced a lot of problems, including toxic pesticides that were used in their habitat. Things were looking so bad for the toads that scientists in Wyoming brought the last remaining wild toads into captivity in 1994.
Thanks to captive breeding efforts, Wyoming toads are being reintroduced back into the wild. While these animals are on their way to recovery, they aren’t out of the woods yet: the wild populations are not yet self-sustaining – still relying on the regular release of captive-reared toads. For this reason, IUCN continues to list the toad as extinct in the wild. This is why the Kansas City Zoo will continue to hatch tadpoles and grow them to young adult-hood for release in Wyoming as part of the Amphibian Ark. With many zoos participating in the Wyoming Toad SSP, it is our hope that their wild populations will increase to the point of eventually becoming self-sustaining.
Brown Hyena Distribution, Density and Health in Namibia, led by Dr. Kirk Suedmeyer, Director of Animal Health Goal: Modeling study to assess distribution and density, provide health assessments and conservation status of the brown hyena in Southern Namibia’s Sperrgebiet National Park
Brown hyenas are the apex predator along the Northern Skeleton coast and the Southern Diamond coast of Namibia. Their population status is unknown. Diamond mining along the coastline may impact their conservation status which the Brown Hyena Project is helping the Namibian government to determine. The Kansas City Zoo is the only zoo participating in darting and collaring brown hyenas for the project. When doing this their health is assessed and anesthetic evaluations are done for future research. Increased knowledge of their distribution, home range, physiologic normal, and anesthetic response helps better manage the wild populations and the few animals in captivity. Our initial work has resulted in the Namibian government setting aside an area as a Brown Hyena Protected Area. This is a significant conservation endeavor- a government setting aside an area to protect a species before it becomes endangered!! To date, the project has performed health assessments on more than 25 hyenas, including Kansas City’s own “KC Sowende”, a young female named for the citizens of Kansas City, who just had her first litter of pups last year!
Bolivian Frog Conservation Project, coordinated Tim Steinmetz, Animal Curator Goal: To assist with building an Amphibian Ark in Bolivia accessing the amphibian life in Lake Titicaca and to collect specimens for breeding
Spanning the border between Peru and Bolivia, Lake Titicaca has remained a natural and cultural wonder. The lake’s massive size lends it a resiliency in the face of contamination from the booming lakeside cities. Within the last five years, a $500 million deal for preservation was struck between Bolivia and Peru. According to the Autonomous Authority of Lake Titicaca, more than 30,000 informal miners discard their tailings into the lake’s tributary rivers. In addition, the lake receives 20% of the 100 tons of solid waste from nearby cities.
Field work has been ongoing to study the Titicaca Water Frog. Some populations in the lake are still in good condition, but in some areas almost 80% of their population was discovered deceased and other individuals are in very bad conditions. In addition to physically creating a structure, the Bolivian Amphibian Ark will include:
- Husbandry research of poorly-known aquatic frogs
- Captive breeding of threatened Telmatobius frogs (Titicaca Water Frog)
- Amphibian husbandry training for Bolivian students and conservationists
- Field surveys and research in Lake Titicaca and other areas of Bolivia
- Education programs designed for local communities, schools and staff working in protected areas
Three-Year Funding was provided to:
AZA Ape Tag Conservation Initiative, contributed by Courtney Murray, Assistant Animal Supervisor Goal: Support for the Ape TAG (Taxon Advisory Group) that, in turn, directly supports great ape conservation efforts
Specifically, the Ape TAG works with the individual ape Species Survival Plan (SSP®) programs to ensure that ape populations in accredited zoos are properly managed to secure their long-term future and physical and psychological health.
The Ape TAG Conservation Initiative represents a collective effort by zoos to help conserve wild populations of apes. Launched in early 2010, the primary aim of the Initiative is to increase the amount and duration of zoo support for ape conservation. Specific goals include:
- Provide multi-year support for high priority ape populations and sites 2. Increase the number of zoos contributing to the in situ conservation of apes 3. Increase the presence of the zoo community in ape conservation 4. Encourage law enforcement and in situ education through the support of sanctuaries 5. Provide zoos with resources to convey ape conservation messages to the public and promote their support for in situ conservation
Penguin Consortium, leadership by Sean Putney, Director of Living Collections Goal: Partnering together to continue the designation of Punta San Juan as a Marine Reserve under the Peruvian Protected Areas System and securing the future of the Humboldt penguin in Punta San Juan
The Center for Resource Sustainability (a Peruvian NGO) strives to secure the funding necessary to maintain adequate personnel to continue the collection of biological data and protection of Humboldt penguins. Kansas City Zoo has joined forces with the St. Louis Zoo and the Brookfield Zoo to carry on the very important Penguin Census and the teaching the sustainable harvesting of guano practices. The Penguin Census has already shown that the total combined populations in Peru, and along the cost of Chile, can be reliably estimated at only 40,000 Humboldt penguins — a tiny percentage of the population first discovered in the 19th century along the same coastline.
Humboldt penguins face increasing challenges due to an increase in El Niño events caused by climate change. As overfishing, coastal development, and pollution tax the fragile Peruvian coast, climate change threatens to push the area to the brink of collapse.
In January 2016, three Kansas City Zoo staff members traveled to Peru scouting educational partners and documenting via video and photos the work being accomplished and future conservation opportunities. These experiences will be put to plan as we continue to build a partnership and a Kansas City Zoo impact in Peru.
Continued monetary support was approved for:
Conservation Breeding Specialist Group (CBSG) is saving threatened species by increasing the effectiveness of conservation efforts worldwide by using scientifically sound, collaborative processes that bring together people with diverse perspectives and knowledge to evoke positive conservation change
Polar Bears International (PBI) is disseminating only fact-based, scientifically gathered, peer-reviewed information to assist the global community in understanding and evaluating the true status and condition of polar bear populations and their arctic habitat, as well as the impact of human-caused global warming on their survival
Zoo Conservation Outreach Group (ZCOG) is the only organization that provides annual training opportunities and management leadership to Latin American zoo and aquarium professionals and the sole provider of international scholarships to attend AZA professional training programs.
Tiger Conservation Campaign works with zoos across North America to raise awareness about wild tigers and funding for their survival; four out of nine species of tigers have disappeared in the wild, efforts are underway to reduce human-tiger-livestock conflict, curb poaching and study diseases and find ways to prevent an outbreak through the Tiger Health Support Program
96 Elephants / Wildlife Conservation Society takes a stand to save elephants because in the wild as many as 96 elephants are killed in Africa every day; they are an advocacy and education organization taking a stand to stop illegal ivory trade
Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF) is the world’s leading organization dedicated to saving the cheetah in the wild through integrated programs aimed at addressing the principle threats to the cheetah and its entire ecosystem, including human populations
Fresh Water Mussels is a native conservation project in partnership with U.S. Fish and Wildlife, Missouri State University and the Missouri Department of Conservation that has facilitated the revision of water quality criteria and protection of aquatic wildlife; it has also aided in the development of other mussel culture programs nationally
There are three buildings at the Kansas City Zoo that showcase our hard work and diligent pursuit of conservation. Tuxedo Grill, certified Gold LEED; Polar Bear Passage, certified Silver LEED; Helzberg Penguin Plaza, certified Silver LEED status. We are working to decrease our carbon footprint by building exhibits that are environmentally friendly and educating the public about conservation.
The Kansas City Zoo debuted the Green Revolution, an eco-friendly exhibit that addresses critical environmental issues concerning the future of our planet on Earth Day. This exhibit was created by the museum of Science and Industry in Chicago and is distributed across the country by the Smithsonian, with exhibit plans and templates that cities use to give it a local focus. Divided into sections ranging from composting and gardening to reducing your carbon footprint, the exhibit aims to build awareness of environmental issues and present solutions that individuals can implement to protect the natural world. The Kansas City version of the Green Revolution was created from reused, recycled materials found locally. Creative educational displays demonstrate how long it takes items to decay, how individuals can reduce their carbon footprint, how solar energy works and what products can be made from recycled products.
There are two really COOL things about this exhibit. Unlike most traveling museum exhibits, the Green Revolution has virtually no carbon footprint because all plans are sent digitally and all materials are repurposed. A part of the exhibit features green businesses and local “Eco-heroes.” This has brought much awareness to green jobs and partners who benefit the environment locally.
Polar Bear Passage – Silver Leed Certified
The Polar Bear Passage is a Green Building, which means Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards were followed during its design and construction. Under these standards builders were guided to use recycled materials, materials manufactured locally, or materials that carried a third party green certification. Plants have even been placed on the perimeter of the exhibit to enhance insulation, which keeps the environment cool in the summer and warm in the winter.
You can see Berlin dive into the pool, amuse themselves with enrichment items or laze around on the rocky terrain. The pool is maintained at 65 degrees to make them feel more at home. They also have access to a behind-the-scenes climate-controlled building, where they are trained and sometimes go to take a break from the public. The Polar Bear Passage is a show-stopping attraction that educates people about the conservation of polar bears in the wild. Polar bears are starving in the Arctic. They rely on sea ice to hunt and they travel long distances to get food by swimming from sheet to sheet. Due to global warming, the ice is melting at rapid rates. This is one of the reasons the Kansas City Zoo decided to bring the conservation message of polar bears to the masses.
Helzberg Penguin Plaza- Gold LEED Certified
Helzberg Penguin Plaza features a 100,000-gallon cool pool for cold-water penguins and a 25,000-gallon warm wet area for warm water penguins. The Kansas City Zoo acquired four types of penguins: Humboldt, King, Gentoo and Rockhopper species. Each exhibit provides child-friendly, magnificent views, showcasing these extraordinary black and white birds in a recreated natural environment, including snow for our cold-water feathered friends. Upon approach, guests travel over a map of the Southern Oceans, depicting where each of the world’s 18 species of penguins is located. The Southern Oceans Gallery entry area provides views of five exhibits. These exhibits connect all oceans through a colorful coral reef aquarium, floating moon jellies and a mesmerizing 1500-gallon schooling fish aquarium.
This 15 million dollar world-class exhibit includes efficiency and Gold LEED certification. Instead of draining and refilling the pools in the penguin exhibit for cleaning, water is recycled through a life support system every 27 minutes and is continuously being reused.
The Scoop on Poop
Feces can be fascinating. Animals use poop to build their homes, hide from enemies, attract mates and even nourish themselves. Humans use it to make fertilizer, fuel power plants and diagnose medical conditions. At the Zoo we call it our all natural compost – Zoo Manoo — an all-purpose soil conditioner. It is only one example of our conservation in action. Our composting program diverts 75% of animal waste into about 1200 tons of compost annually.
Besides improving the physical structure of the soil, using compost has other benefits. It modifies temperature extremes in the soil, keeping it cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter. In addition, it utilizes water more efficiently because less moisture is lost due to evaporation and runoff thereby permitting better absorption.
You can purchase our Zoo Manoo year-round for $25 per truck load or $20 for FOTZ members. To make pick-up arrangements, please call the Zoo 816.595.1234
Sustainable Seafood Matters
One of the biggest conservation issues facing many species of penguins is the decline in populations of their food. Due primarily to human practices, fish species around the globe are losing numbers and the vital food web of the Southern Ocean is threatened. Fortunately, through programs like Seafood Watch™, people can make a positive impact by making smart choices and letting their voices be heard. Humans have had a deep relationship with the ocean for thousands of years. For most of that time, a balance existed between the ocean’s ability to sustain life and habitats, and what we take from it. Seafood is gaining popularity around the world as a “healthier choice”. Due to this new demand, the importance of sustainable practices and worldwide awareness is more important than ever.
Sustainable Seafood Soriée
Each year the Kansas City Zoo hosts an evening of sustainability education and scrumptious seafood. This year’s event was held at Helzberg Penguin Plaza, helping to illustrate the importance of sustainable fisheries to penguins and other sea dwelling animals. Look for our Sustainable Seafood Soirée each year in April.
Shop Smart. Make Orangutan- Friendly Choices.
The Kansas City Zoo is going palm oil free to help save orangutans and all animals affected by non-sustainable palm oil farming.
Alternative products are being used until the Zoo finds companies that are committed to using certified sustainable palm oil.
From pretzels and hamburger buns to soaps and window cleaners, the Zoo is clearing out items containing palm oil from its inventory and seeking companies that will provide alternatives or orangutan-friendly, sustainable palm oil products.
Palm oil, a form of edible vegetable oil obtained from African oil palm trees, is a key ingredient used in many of our household products, from lotion to shampoo and in many foods.
Unsustainable palm oil production results in massive deforestation, rapid biodiversity loss and significant greenhouse gas emission. In the last decade, close to 80% of deforestation in the Sumatra peat lands was driven by the expansion of non-sustainable palm oil plantations costing orangutans and other endangered wildlife valuable habitat they need to survive.
Certified sustainable palm oil comes from plantations that have made a commitment to produce palm oil in a way that minimizes its impact on wildlife, indigenous people and the planet. The good news is oil palms can be grown without destroying rainforests and — if grown sustainably – palm oil can be the best choice for vegetable oils because oil palms produce 4-10 times more oil per acre than other crops.
Here’s how you can help!
- Use Cheyenne Mountain Zoo’s new palm oil shopping guide app. cmzoo.org/palmoil
- Support companies who are members of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO). rspo.org
- Encourage companies to be a part of the RSPO.
- Educate those using palm oil in products to do business with companies that supply 100% segregated certified sustainable palm oil that is deforestation-free and label their products accordingly.
Stay tuned for additional updates as we discover sustainable resources and open the new Orangutan Canopy in late May.