The Toronto Zoo envisions a zoo whose operations produce an overall benefit to our natural environment, allowing wildlife and wild spaces to thrive. We have motivated staff and volunteers that understand the importance of living sustainably in balance with nature. We understand and accept that climate change is a real threat to Earth’s biodiversity, and will be a leading example of energy efficient operations and sustainable action to inspire people to lessen their ecological footprint on the Earth. The Toronto Zoo will be viewed as an important source of information and inspiration for individual and group action against climate change.
In 2007, the Toronto Zoo published its Green Plan renewing its commitment to demonstrate environmental leadership in all aspects of our operations, including sustainable growth and maintenance. To date, the Toronto Zoo has achieved 25 of the 27 action steps identified in the Green Plan and has made significant movement toward achieving its 2027 targets for energy, water and waste management on-site.
In 2018, the Toronto Zoo implemented an ISO14001 compliant environmental management system providing a framework to actively reduce our impact on the environmental and ensure we are able to achieve targets set in our TZNet0 Sustainability Plan while reconciling environmental values with other priorities like animal welfare, safety and fiscal responsibility.
The purpose of this new TZNet0 Sustainability Plan is to describe our renewed commitment to preserve, protect and ultimately enhance the earth’s living systems. It is a guiding document to help the Toronto Zoo not only support our internal commitment for sustainable operations, but also support the objectives of the City of Toronto’s TransformTO Report, Toronto Biodiversity Report, Rouge Watershed Report, and the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
By 2024, the Toronto Zoo shall:
- reduce greenhouse gas emissions (as represented by CO2e) by 60% below 1990 levels;
- reduce water consumption by 75% below 1990 levels; and
- divert more than 90% of waste generated each year from landfill.
The Toronto Zoo has also set long-term goals to be:
- Net zero to landfill by 2027;
- Net zero water consumption by 2030; and
- Net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2030;
Our environmental sustainability strategy engages all Zoo staff, volunteers, program partners and vendors to support our conservation vision to create a world where wildlife and wild spaces thrive.
Working to reduce, re-use and recycle in as many ways as we can, the Toronto Zoo is striving to be a leader in achieving the goals of the Province of Ontario’s Zero Waste Strategy. We are continuously looking for opportunities to divert items from landfill and have incorporated the following into our waste management strategy.
- TerraCycle Waste Stream program for Zoo staff and volunteers;
- 13 waste diversion programs for Zoo materials;
- 14 water bottle filling stations to reduce the number of single use plastic bottle used;
- divert 3,000 tonnes of organic material to the ZooShare Biodigester for the production of 500kWh of clean renewable energy for the Ontario hydro grid;
- divert waste items to the Durham York Energy Centre which produces energy from waste for the Ontario hydro grid;
- increase awareness about the environment impacts of manufacturing and consumable products on wildlife and biodiversity with our PhoneApes cell phone recycling program; and
- composting organics on site which is used in our indoor and outdoor garden beds.
The Toronto Zoo occupies 287 hectares of valley, river, forest, field and meadow ecosystems at the edge of the Rouge National Urban Park within the Rouge River Watershed. We provide beautifully wild and ecologically sustainable spaces for staff, guests, our animal ambassadors and the diverse wildlife of the Rouge River Watershed.
Progressive development of the Zoo property to support wildlife conservation programs and work of the Toronto Zoo involves commitment to management and rehabilitation of the site and of critical habitats for local species at risk as well as help to mitigate climate change as with our Zookeeper initiative Acres for the Atmosphere.
The Wildlife Health Centre at the Toronto Zoo is a prime example of constructing green. Built to Tier 2 of the City of Toronto Green Building Standards, the Wildlife Health Centre contains 13 green infrastructure initiatives:
- leading-edge sustainable construction techniques, materials and technology;
- 5,113 ft2 of green roof;
- cooling roofing features to reduce urban heat island effect;
- insulated foundation walls
- low flow fixtures
- LED lighting;
- heat recovery system
- bird friendly glazing on all transparent windows;
- removal of suspended solids in storm water; and
- low impact development with permeable pavers and water efficient planting;
- all constructed using the footprint of the old facility where possible.
- invasive species management plan to control and remove invasive plant species and remediate lands colonized by invasive species.
In the past we have utilized features of the Zoo to increase awareness about the value of renewable energy technologies; however we are currently taking a step back from the solar panel and geothermal educational displays to invest in the renewal of the Zoo’s facilities. Upgrading existing energy services with more efficient systems is the Zoo’s current energy reduction priorities. Although not glamorous, it is a valuable step to reducing our overall carbon footprint. For the convenience of guests and staff, the Zoo is researching renewable energy production on site, electric vehicle charging stations and engagement opportunities to reduce our resource consumption for the future.
Energy Efficiency projects we are proud of, include:
- A total of 13,663 ft2 of green roof;
- 50 solar thermal panels transferring energy from the sun to the hot water supply for the Administrative Support Complex;
- A geothermal base in the outdoor exhibit of the Ring-tailed Lemur Summer Home and Peafowl Winter Residence.
- Cooling the Caribou Café with ICE Bears;
- 46% of our transit fleet are electric or low-carbon emitting vehicles;
- Cooling Tower on the Zootique Gift Shop & Education Building;
- Variable Frequency Drives to the motors and pumps in the Indomalayan Pavilion has reduced energy consumption for the building by 50%.
Educating the public and our staff about the environmental consequences of our actions is a key component of the Toronto Zoo conservation mission of connecting people, animals and conservation science to fight extinction.
The Toronto Zoo walks the talk on protecting wildlife and wild spaces. Increasing our communications on the actions we have taken to reduce the impact of our operations on the environment leads the broader community with practical examples of just how it can be done and supports our conservation message that everyone has a valuable role in the fight against climate change.
HOW WE ARE DOING!