NC Zoo Garners North Carolina's Top Award

On November 29, Gov. Bev Perdue Honored the North Carolina Zoo with 2011 Governor’s Award for Excellence, the state's highest honor. This award recognizes dedicated service and was extended to acknowledge the Zoo's innovative and persistent stewardship of the natural environment. Since 1989, the North Carolina Zoo has relentlessly worked to conserve its natural resources and reduce its impact on nature.

The Zoo began these efforts by creating a recycling drop-off in the park and, later, establishing a nearly two-acre compost site for horticultural and some animal waste. By reducing the Zoo's waste stream and producing high-quality fertilizer for the site's magnificent gardens, the composite site has generated a cost savings of more than $160,000 each year.

In 2002, the zoo began an ISO 14001 environmental-management-system certification process that put a systematic plan in place to make the Zoo's operations more environmentally sound. The N.C. Zoo became the first zoo in the country (and the second in the world) to earn ISO certification for its horticulture division, and by 2011, had achieved that distinction for the entire zoo.

To attain this certification, the Zoo methodically increased its use of organic, rather than chemical fertilizers; made its pest-control efforts more environmentally friendly; began monitoring its ground and surface water to prevent pollution, and put an energy management system in place.
Additionally, the Zoo initiated a number of environmental initiatives that included: (1) establishing a biodiesel processing project that helps fuel all the Zoo's 11 buses and nine trams; (2) building a picnic pavilion topped by a solar panel array that produces 135,000 kwh of electricity each year; and (3) constructing a wetland that filters storm water from the Zoo's North America parking lot.

The Governor's Award for Excellence was created in 1982 by Gov. Jim Hunt as a way to honor state employees for outstanding achievements in one of five areas: Human Relations, Innovations, Outstanding State Government Service, Public Service, and Safety and Heroism. The Zoo received its award in the Innovations Category. Dr. David Jones, the Zoo’s Director, and Mary Joan Pugh, Deputy Director, accepted the award on November 29, 2011.

The NC Zoo Society offers its congratulations to the Zoo and its staff for this sterling achievement. Good Job!

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