At the Houston Zoo, we work hard to make our operations environmentally friendly to ensure we’re doing our part to save animals the wild. In 2020, the Houston Zoo received the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Green Award for Significant Achievement in our sustainable operations. One of our major achievements is how much waste we have kept out of landfills through composting as much material as possible. All of the animal manure generated from our elephant herd and our large hoofstock animals like rhinos, giraffes, and okapi is composted so that the material can be used for gardening. The manure from plant-eating animals, like elephants, has all the nutrients plants need to grow making it great for gardening! In 2020, we composted 1,340 TONS of animal waste – that is the same weight as 223 adult male Asian elephants!
In addition to composting animal waste, the Houston Zoo also composts food scraps generated from meal preparation in our cafes, catered events, and animal diet preparation. Thanks to how much the Houston Zoo composts, we currently divert 67% of our total waste from landfill! Our goal is to keep improving our operations through enforcement of our sustainable procurement policy, source reduction, and expansion of our composting and recycling programs and achieve 90% landfill diversion by 2030.