World Water Day Update

Posted March 22, 2023

Cincinnati Zoo’s Elephants Will Walk on Water in New Elephant Trek Habitat

Million-gallon capacity stormwater tanks under habitat part of Zoo’s NetZero plan

Today, on World Water Day, Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden is celebrating the progress it has made toward reaching its goal to be NetZero by 2025. The million-gallon capacity stormwater tanks being installed under the ground where its elephants will be roaming next year will provide the water that will be used in Elephant Trek and in other habitats on the 80-acre campus.

Photos | Video (ET construction and interview)

“We started on this journey more than a decade ago when we installed 400,000-gallon capacity tanks under the Africa habitat,” said Cincinnati Zoo’s vice president of facilities and sustainability Mark Fisher.  “We collect rainwater, clean it, and use it for streams, waterfalls, pools, and other water elements in that part of the Zoo. We placed additional tanks under Roo Valley, which opened in 2020, that provide water for that habitat.”

When the new tanks are up and running, 98% of the Zoo’s non-potable water needs will be met using collected rainwater! Storing and reusing rainwater has helped the Zoo save more than $10 million on its water bill over the years and has also kept water and sewer overflow out of neighbors’ basements. The Zoo has saved more than 2 BILLION gallons of water since it began efforts to reduce water use in 2006.

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® continues to seek new ways to use less of this precious natural resource as it pursues the goal to be Net Zero by 2025.

“We are fortunate to have plenty of this precious resource,” said Cincinnati Zoo director Thane Maynard. “Our friends and conservation partners in the south rift valley area of Kenya are experiencing the worst drought in history, and the river that provides vital water for people and wildlife there has run dry.  The Zoo is collecting funds to provide relief and asking you to give if you are able.”