Zoos are increasingly becoming educational adventure parks. They are changing into parks in which animals have enough space and in which visitors can experience wildlife with all their senses. Although animal welfare, educational value and revenues are all benefiting from this, it also increases water and energy consumption. Within the framework of the European Sustainable Energy Week, we take a look at how zoos can save energy and water, without compromising the experiential value and animal welfare.
Linking energy systems provides a high return
The Deerns ‘eco systems in balance concept’ reduces the tension between the visitor experience and animal welfare; the energy wastage and water drainage of one compound is recycled into a source of energy and water for another. One example is the penguin, reptile and lion compounds. The surplus heat from the cooling machines in the penguin compound is collected and used to heat the reptile compound. Afterwards, the surplus heat from the terrariums can be used to heat the ground in the lion compound. These big cats can manage in the cold, but they love a nice warm floor. Linking energy systems in this way can provide a high return.
Sustainable business operations
The Diergaarde Blijdorp Zoo in the Dutch port city of Rotterdam is making a conscious effort to reduce wastage of energy and water. One of the areas in which Deerns had previously been involved was the renovation of the Dikhuidenvleugel monument. Solar collectors, water filters and heat recovery systems have been fitted in the renovated pygmy hippos and black rhinos compound and can provide annual savings of up to 60,000m³ water and 75,000m³ gas.
The water in the Diergaarde Blijdorp Oceanium is filtered multiple times, meaning only five percent has to be changed. The fresh ocean water, brought especially from the sea, is used firstly for the fragile tropical fish, then the less fastidious species, then the sea lions and finally, for the polar bears. In this way, Blijdorp gets the maximum return from the ocean water.
Many zoos are already making conscious efforts to save energy. But there are also those who dread the investment in recycling and sustainable energy. This is money that they would prefer to invest in animal welfare and the experiential value for visitors. However, they forget that they are saddled with a high energy and water bill, year after year. In addition, a high energy consumption is not in line with the ecological image that zoos wish to project. With the eco concept for energy and water, zoos cannot only save huge amounts of money in their operation, they also have a good story for their visitors. A story that fits seamlessly with their own ecosystem for animals.