Cincinnati Zoo Visitors Walk on Water

Posted March 22, 2022

Stormwater tanks under Zoo hold up to 500 thousand gallons of rainwater

CINCINNATI, OH (March 22, 2022) – Today is World Water Day! Since 2006, Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden has been taking steps to reduce water use, and those efforts have resulted in a savings of 2 BILLION gallons of water.


“A big source of the savings comes from massive stormwater tanks, with a capacity to hold 500 thousand gallons of water, buried under the Zoo,” said Mark Fisher, Cincinnati Zoo’s vice president of facilities & sustainability. “We use that water to fill Fiona’s pool, pools in the penguin habitats, moats for our lions, cheetahs, painted dogs, and more.  It’s also used to irrigate our beautiful gardens.”

Storing and reusing rainwater has helped the Zoo save $10 million on its water bill over the years and has also kept water and sewer overflow out of neighbors’ basements. The current tanks keep more than 15 million gallons of water out of the sewer system annually, and that number will multiply when the Zoo installs an even bigger stormwater retention system under the new Elephant Trek.

“The tanks under Elephant Trek will add another million gallons of water collection capacity and will provide all the water that will flow through the new 5-acre elephant habitat and also be used in Manatee Springs, Jungle Trails, and other neighboring habitats,” said Fisher.

Other water-saving measures include the installation of pervious pavers, replacing concrete with green spaces, topping roofs with living plants to reduce stormwater runoff, and growing water-thirsty plants in low spots around the Zoo.

Water covers two-thirds of the Earth’s surface, but only a tiny percentage of it is available as clean, fresh water. The Greenest Zoo in America®, supported by its official water sustainability partner Roto-Rooter, continues to seek new ways to use less of this precious natural resource as it pursues the goal to be Net Zero by 2025.