Happy Earth Day, Zoo Friends!

Written by Katie Allen and Tyson Facto, Animal Care Professionals

St Petersburg, FL has started a new campaign to reduce, and eventually eliminate the use of plastic straws. The city is asking residents and businesses to stop using straws when ordering drinks at restaurants and coffee shops. In turn, businesses will only provide straws to customers that request one.

Why is this simple action so important? Single-use plastics, such as straws and plastic bags are having a drastic effect on our oceans and marine life. To a fish, a small piece of plastic can accidentally become its next meal. Unfortunately, over 100 million marine animals are hurt each year due to plastics in the ocean and along the shoreline.

The aftermath of excessive plastic has a drastic effect on the world around us. It is estimated that more than 8 MILLION tons of plastic are dumped into our oceans every year.  Recently, a sperm whale was found on a beach in Spain with 64 lbs. of plastic in its stomach and intestines. Devastating situations like this are becoming more frequent around the world. It’s up to us to make the first step to a greener future.

How is ZooTampa committed to reducing our use of plastics?

  • Plastic bags and straws are not offered at any of our retail and restaurant locations.
  • Recycling bins are found throughout the park.
  • Reusable cups are used at Lorikeet Landing.
  • Reusable cups and bags are sold in our gift shops.

So, how can YOU help?  Your choices make a difference:

  • Say “no” to plastics straws, lids and bags! It’s a great first step in becoming more environmentally conscious.
  • Recycle plastic at the nearest recycling center. You  can even recycle your cans, paper, metals, and more
  • Don’t litter! Tampa Bay is beautiful and we want to keep it that way. Littering is the easiest way for plastic to end up in the ocean and in the stomachs of marine life.
  • Join a beach cleanup or take a bucket to the beach. Make a personal goal to pick up the trash at the local beach or river. Every bit of cleanup helps!
  • Support government initiatives, like St. Pete’s “No straw” campaign, or start your own initiative. A simple ripple can create a greater impact.
  • Find alternatives to plastics you use every day. Other options won’t break the bank and can help Mother Earth.

To celebrate our beautiful planet on Earth Day, we encourage you to make a pledge to reduce your consumption of single- plastics.  Although these seem like small steps, we have the power to make a change and become better advocates for the environment.