Tag Archive | Zoo

North America’s First Zoo Biogas Plant to be Built at the Toronto Zoo


ZooShare Biogas Co-operative Inc., a non-profit renewable energy co-operative, is set to develop the first North American zoo biogas facility at the Toronto Zoo. Biogas is a type of renewable energy that converts organic waste into energy and fertilizer using a process called anaerobic digestion. The specific types of organic waste that the ZooShare Biogas Co-operative will use at the Toronto Zoo will be animal waste and food waste from local grocery stores. The animal and food waste will be converted into electricity, heat and fertilizer, benefiting both the local community and the environment.

The process of anaerobic digestion begins with the waste being fed at regular intervals into an anaerobic digester. ZooShare Biogas Executive Director Daniel Bida likens the anaerobic digester to a big concrete stomach, wherein the organic waste is heated to 38 degrees Celsius and continuously mixed. About sixty days into this process, the waste is transformed into biogas (which consists of 65% methane and 35% carbon dioxide gas) and digestate (fertilizer). The resulting biogas can be used to create electricity, piped into the natural gas grid, or converted into vehicle fuel, and the fertilizer is suitable for farms or backyard gardens.


Biogas has a number of benefits:

  1. It can generate electricity for twenty-four hours a day and for seven days a week.

  2. It reduces greenhouse gas emissions.

  3. It diverts waste from landfills.

  4. It can be produced from any organic waste source.

  5. The end product is a nutrient-rich, odour-free fertilizer.

Construction of the Toronto Zoo biogas plant is slated for July of 2014, which could make the plant operational by December of 2014. The plant will consist of input and output tanks, an engine room and a classroom. All in all, it will occupy one and a half acres of the zoo’s land.

Although the construction cost is estimated at $5.4 million, the benefits of the biogas plant will be worth the cost. The 500-kilowatt plant will provide enough electricity to power over 250 households. In addition, it will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 12,000 tonnes (the equivalent of removing 2,100 cars off the road).

To learn more about the ZooShare Biogas Co-operative, click here.

To read The Toronto Observer article on the ZooShare Biogas’ Toronto Zoo project, click here.


5 Challenges to Breeding Pandas in Captivity

Giant Panda Tian Tian is seen at the Giant Panda exhibit at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo in Washington.

A team of vets has also been glued 24-7 to the Washington, D.C. facility’s Panda Cam since August 7, when Mei began showing signs of being pregnant. For instance, the panda has become lethargic, spending more time in her den, sleeping and building her bamboo nest. She’s also been cradling and grooming her toys. Mei’s urinary hormones also show spikes that suggest a baby on the way.

Despite these clues, breeding the endangered animals in captivity is fraught with challenges. We talked to three experts working to breed pandas to find out exactly what’s so tricky about these animals’ reproductive biology.

1. Female pandas ovulate just once a year, in the spring.

2. The pair has to be compatible.

3. Pandas have pseudopregnancies.

4. A panda fetus is extremely slow-growing, making it hard to detect pregnancy.

5. Cubs are very needy and vulnerable at birth.

Read the full story here.

Petition to Close Surabaya Zoo

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Petition by Trevor Buchanan, Australia

Over 85,000 supporters, 14,000 more needed

Surabaya Zoo, also known as Kebun Binatang Surabaya (KBS), was founded in 1916 and is the one of the largest zoos in South East Asia, covering 37 acres and housing over 350 species. The zoo has fallen into disrepute over the last few years with widespread allegations of mistreatment, corruption, and uncontrolled breeding. Many of the animals cared for at KBS live in pitiable conditions, some are highly endangered species. This must stop.

The Zoo states there are 2,800 animals living there, other reports put the number at closer to 4,000. The mistreatment of the animals started to attract widespread condemnation in 2010. In that year, the Jakarta Post labelled KBS as the Surabaya “Zoo of Death”.  In the same year the Forestry Ministry revoked Surabaya Zoo’s license after many animal deaths including rare species such as Sumatran tigers, Komodo Dragons, lions and crocodiles.

East Java Natural Resources Conservation Agency (BKSDA) conducted an investigation, which found that negligent keepers were to blame for most of the animal deaths. It is alleged that zookeepers are stealing meat which they sell to the black market. Also that animals are being stolen by the zookeepers and also sold. Recently a giraffe died that was found to have an 18kg ball of plastic in it’s stomach, It had been living off food thrown to it by vistors, such as candy bars, which often still had the wrapper on it. Tigers are kept locked in small concrete cells because they do not have enough room to exercise. They are allowed out of their damp cells for only 3 days for every 10 they are locked up.  Some animals have chronic long term back and leg complaints because they cannot exercise.  Many have wasting digestive diseases from eating tainted meat.

We call on the honourable President, Dr. Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, take action immediately. Please act – the world is watching.

For more information on the petition and to take action, click here:

Petition to Close Surabaya Zoo