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Zoo Update with Director and CEO Denise M. Verret – April 2022

Armenian viper. Photo by Jamie Pham

Spring is one of my favorite seasons of the year—it’s a time of birth and renewal when the natural world around us springs back to life. We also use spring as a time to commemorate our planet and the role we all play in protecting it. As we embark on another year celebrating Earth Day on April 22, I am thinking about how the L.A. Zoo is making a sustainable impact on our planet. Your L.A. Zoo has already implemented effective changes toward a more sustainable future with free EV charging stations in the Zoo’s parking lot, solar-powered mobile phone charging stations inside the Zoo, and our long-standing partnership with the Griffith Park Composting Facility to repurpose the Zoo’s food and animal waste. While we are doing great work in sustainability, we can do more, and we are doing more. Through a partnership with the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, the L.A. Zoo is currently wrapping up the installation of new, state-of-the-art hydration stations throughout our campus. These water filling stations will replace our current drinking fountains and will offer guests, staff, and volunteers the opportunity to have clean drinking water all while promoting the use of refillable bottles to decrease the amount of plastic being used.

The Zoo’s food and beverage concessionaire, SSA Group, has also helped increase the Zoo’s efforts in sustainability. The SSA Group utilizes sustainable, locally sourced food items for the Zoo’s concessions and is a partner with the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program. Additionally, palm oil, as you may know, is a major cause for the habitat loss of orangutans in the wild. The SSA Group provides treats at special events that are palm oil free or contain only sustainably sourced palm oil. The Zoo’s on-site and online gift shops also offer green and Fair Trade items. Green gift shop items include bamboo-fiber T-shirts, biodegradable toys, and jewelry and home décor crafted from reclaimed or recycled materials. By working with product vendors, the SSA Group has dramatically reduced the amount of plastic packaging used for products offered in the Zoo’s gift shops.

We are committed to educating, advocating, and taking actions to be better stewards of our planet. It is important to remember that sustainability directly affects the welfare and care of both the animals in our care at the Zoo and the animals we’re working to save in the wild. This Earth Day, I implore you to ask yourself what actions you can take to limit the resources you use to help co-create a healthier planet and future for the Angelenos of tomorrow. This is a journey of change, and I look forward to taking these steps alongside you.

Denise Verret posing with the giraffes
Denise M. Verret, Zoo Director and CEO Photo by Jamie Pham