The L.A. Zoo Partners with Theodore Payne Foundation and Others To Create Series of Native Gardens for Pollinators and other Wildlife

Project Pollinator new building and signage.

LOS ANGELES, CA – April 22, 2024 — The Los Angeles Zoo has unveiled a new, collaborative initiative called Project Pollinator – an innovative effort to establish, restore, and promote native plant habitats in and around the Zoo, and throughout Los Angeles to create healthy homes for local wildlife and migratory species. 

Project Pollinator is a culmination of several native garden restoration projects and a turf replacement project at the Zoo as well as habitat restoration projects in Griffith Park. On Saturday of Earth Day weekend (4/20), the launch of Project Pollinator concluded with the public opening of Project Pollinator Headquarters (HQ) – a refurbished location inside the Zoo designed to facilitate educational programming and engage Angelenos with interpretation about the challenges native pollinators face and how they can help. 

“As part of L.A. Zoo’s Conservation Strategic Plan, we are working to not only increase the native habitat that we create through restoration projects in and outside the Zoo, but to amplify our impact by engaging the millions of visitors who come to the Zoo,” said Dr. Jake Owens, Director of Conservation, L.A. Zoo. “Project Pollinator HQ is a beautiful spot that I hope our guests will enjoy both as a peaceful place to sit and relax, and to become inspired about how they can create their own native habitat at their home or in their community. Pollinators are crucial in the health of our environment, and by planting a native plant in a pot on your windowsill or yard at home, everyone can play a role in wildlife conservation.”

Project Pollinator Gardens & Projects:

  • Project Pollinator HQ – Located inside the Winnick Family Children’s Zoo is Project Pollinator Headquarters – a redesigned space dedicated to educational programming and activities about native plants and how to create pollinator habitats. 
  • Under Over Garden – Located inside the Zoo adjacent to Project Pollinator HQ is an immersive and stunning display of native plants that pollinators love. Zoo staff installed this native habitat in the former prairie dog exhibit. Since this space was no longer used to house animals, a space was transformed into a space where pollinators can safely find refuge and food sources. 
  • California Native Gateway Garden – In collaboration with Theodore Payne Foundation, the Los Angeles Zoo has converted 14,000 square feet of non-native turf grass in the Zoo’s parking lot to a drought-tolerant pollinator garden with nearly 1,000 native plants that will attract native birds and pollinators. This unique project highlights the importance of adapting our environment to a natural setting as we continue to experience the devastating effects of climate change, including extended droughts and extreme heat. The California Native Gateway Garden was made possible by funding from the SoCal Water$mart Commercial Turf Replacement Rebate Program.
  • Children’s Discovery Center Native Garden – Located in the Zoo’s parking lot in front of the Children’s Discovery Center is this native pollinator garden, installed by students from LAUSD’s North Hollywood High School Zoo Magnet Center.
  • Channel Islands Bird Garden – Located near the Zoo’s Sea Life Cliffs exhibit is a native habitat containing plants indicative of California’s Channel Islands. From California buckeye; Catalina Island ironwood; and beautiful, vivid toyon, this entry garden displays some of the richest flora found in the unique biome of the Channel Islands. This habitat is a great resting place for migratory birds and native pollinators, such as monarch butterflies and bees.
  • Habitat Restoration at Griffith Park’s Fern Dell West Trail – Since 2022, the L.A. Zoo has engaged in a long-term habitat restoration project inside Griffith Park with support from the Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks. During the first Saturday of every month, except summer months, the Zoo hosts a volunteer event at the Fern Dell West Trail to survey wildlife, collect trash, and remove invasive plants like tree tobacco, cocklebur, poison hemlock fennel, mustard, and castor bean. To date over 100,000 invasive plants have been removed and, in their absence, local native species are reclaiming their space.
  • Miyawaki Microforest at Griffith Park’s Bette Davis Picnic Area – Under the leadership of the L.A. Parks Foundation, and in partnership with the Griffith Park Commonwealth Nursery, the Los Angeles Zoo’s Conservation Committee helped install the first-ever Miyawaki Microforest inside Griffith Park at the Bette Davis Picnic Area. This microforest is a fully self-sustaining native habitat benefiting the local wildlife that calls Griffith Park home. All of the seeds for the 145 individual plants in this habitat were collected directly from Griffith Park and grown at the Commonwealth Nursery.

The L.A. Zoo’s Project Pollinator program creates and promotes the development of native habitat and serves as an example of the simple steps Angelenos can take in their homes and communities to support and create native habitats for songbirds, migratory birds, butterflies, bees, bats, and other important species. These pollinators are crucial to the day-to-day life of our planet, our health, and economies. As program partners in the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Saving Animals From Extinction (SAFE) programs for North American songbirds and North American monarch butterflies, the Los Angeles Zoo is working to achieve the objectives of these programs, including widespread distribution of native and monarch-safe plants, increasing native habitat for pollinator and migratory species, and promoting community science as a monitoring tool. As part of this effort, the Zoo is not only creating new and updated native habitats around the Zoo and Griffith Park, but also empowering Angelenos and other visitors to the Zoo to take actions to support pollinators in their communities.

For more information about Project Pollinator, upcoming projects the Zoo is participating in, and how you can get involved, visit lazoo.org/projectpollinator.

About the Los Angeles Zoo
The Los Angeles Zoo is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) and is dedicated to providing exemplary animal care and wellbeing.  As a trusted leader in local and global conservation efforts, the Los Angeles Zoo is saving wildlife and connecting Angelenos to the natural world by delivering diverse learning opportunities and creating unforgettable experiences. The lush 133-acre campus and its passionate and dedicated team welcomes all to be inspired by the Zoo’s vision to create a just and sustainable world where people and wildlife thrive, together. The Zoo is located on Zoo Drive in Griffith Park at the junction of the Ventura (134) and Golden State (5) freeways. Admission is $22 for adults and $17 for children ages 2 to 12. For information, call (323) 644-4200.