Today is World Animal Day, and to honour the occasion, we're celebrating zoos that are roaring ahead on renewable energy.
For many Australians, a trip to the zoo is often our first exposure to the vast array of animal species that share our planet.
But these days zoo visitors may like to keep an eye out for a new attraction – solar panels! It’s a little known fact that many Aussie zoos are leaders in renewable energy. Here are a few of them!
Perth Zoo boasts the largest solar panel array in Perth at 237kW – that’s 755 solar panels!. The solar panels are installed across numerous zoo buildings including the elephant barn, the reptiles building, conference centre, administration buildings and a spectacular solar pergola (pictured) providing up to 30% of the zoo’s energy needs.
Zoos Victoria's claim to climate fame is having the first zoos (Melbourne, Healesville and Werribee) in the world certified as carbon neutral – achieved by purchasing carbon offsets from projects that protect habitat and avoid deforestation. Zoos Victoria has also installed an astonishing 188kW of solar PV panels, mainly at Melbourne Zoo (pictured) and is investigating further renewable energy options.
Monarto Zoo & Adelaide Zoo
Monarto Zoo in South Australia has three solar trackers, which follow the direction of sunlight to maximise the energy produced. Each tracker comprises 60 solar panels totalling 33kW. Adelaide Zoo, Monarto’s city cousin, has installed a total of 150kW solar panels, including a system atop its famous panda exhibit, home to Wang Wang (pictured) and Funi.
Taronga Western Plains Zoo
Taronga Western Plains Zoo in Dubbo has installed 10kW of solar panels on the roof of its Midway Kiosk and near the zoo’s new elephant facility. While you’re there admiring the panels, don’t forget to check out the Przewalski’s Horse and Black Rhinoceros.
Solar zoos around the world
Zoos around the world are taking up the renewable energy challenge too!
For example, in the United States:
- Detroit Zoo purchases 100% wind energy for all of its operations
- Cincinnati Zoo has its own wind turbine along with extensive solar panels
- Toledo Zoo has a 98kW solar walk
- Fort Worth Zoo in Texas installed a 47.5kW solar power system funded through the “Sun Club”, a program where Texas power customers pay an additional $5 on their electricity bill to support community solar installations.
The United Kingdom’s Hamerton Park Zoo (pictured) takes out the title for Europe’s greenest zoo with wind turbines, solar arrays and biomass boilers
- Perth: Perth Zoo
- Melbourne: Zoos Victoria
- Monarto: Zen Energy
- Adelaide: Flickr user Brad licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0
- Taronga: Taronga Western Plains Zoo
- Hamerton: Hamerton Park Zoo: Flickr user NTG