Zoo Conservation

It’s our Mission!

At Reid Park Zoo – conservation is a part of everything we do, from using solar power to protecting elephants! We believe that our role as a conservation organization starts with our actions at “home” and extends beyond the gates of the Zoo.

Conservation at Reid Park Zoo

Species Survival Plans

Although zoo babies are popular with our guests, the Zoo does not breed animals without thinking about the long-term responsibility. We work closely with other accredited zoos and aquariums around the country to make responsible breeding and animal placement decisions. It’s not just about having great animals in Tucson for you to learn from – it’s about working together to make sure that these species are protected for generations to come.

Some of the Zoo’s animals are part of a program called the Species Survival Plan®, or SSP®. The SSP® was developed by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums to help zoos and aquariums work together to do what’s best for an entire species. The SSP® determines which animals are good breeding matches, even if those animals are at different zoos. It can also restrict breeding if the captive population gets too large, or encourage breeding if the population gets too small. Even if a species in our collection is not officially part of an SSP®, we still consult our colleagues at other zoos to determine whether it’s responsible to breed a certain type of animal.

“Green” building

Reid Park Zoo strives to be a community leader in “green” construction. We have recently opened the Lee H. Brown Family Conservation Learning Center, which features

  • Solar power panels to produce energy for the building
    • You can see how much energy we have produced here. 
  • Highly efficient heating and cooling systems
  • Recycled and sustainable construction materials
  • Water harvesting and grey water capture
  • Non-toxic, low fume paints and adhesives
  • Natural day-lighting
  • ….and much more!

We received the prestigious LEED Platinum certification from the U.S. Green Building Council. This was the first LEED platinum building in Southern Arizona.


Like many people in Tucson, the Zoo participates in the City of Tucson’s blue barrel recycling program. Zoo staff members follow the City’s recycling guidelines when separating recyclable material from other trash. Recycling bins around the Zoo encourage Zoo visitors to do the same.  Zoo Keepers also reuse items such as burlap sacks, cardboard boxes and paper towel tubes for animal enrichment.

Did you know you can recycle cell phones at the Zoo. Just drop them off at the Zoo’s administration building or the front gate and we will take care of the rest.

Ecofriendly products

During education programs and in the Zoofari Cafe, we use plates, cups and utensils made from plants, like corn and sugarcane.  Since these materials will easily decompose they will not take up lots of landfill space. Additionally we use plant based chemicals to clean our non-disposable dishes and countertops.

Saving and Reclaiming Water

Let’s face it, the Zoo uses lots of water to keep animal exhibits and night houses clean, and to keep our vegetation lush. In the desert, water is very precious so we use it as responsibly as possible. We use highly treated waste-water, or “reclaimed” water, for many of our cleaning and irrigating needs. The Zoo Keeper’s use low-volume high pressure hoses for their cleaning needs which reduces water use by 50% over a traditional hose.

Saving and Producing Energy

The Zoo also uses a lot of power to keep the animal exhibits’ lights, heaters, swamp coolers and pool filters running! We try to conserve energy whenever possible by turning off lights and computers when not in use. Additionally, during our annual Zoolights event we use only low energy LED holiday lights. To offset the power we do use, the Zoo has solar arrays on both the Conservation Learning Center and Elephant Care Center that produce clean energy that feeds back into the TEP power grid. To date, we have produced more energy than we have used!