Idaho Falls, ID – The Idaho Falls Zoo at Tautphaus Park was recently awarded two grants, totaling $9,500 that will assist with continued efforts at expanding zoo educational programs and water conservation efforts.
A $1,000 grant from North Wind, combined with a $500 grant from Leichtweis Enterprise, will fund the development of a series of STEM-based (Science, Technology, Energy & Math) exploration stations for all ages throughout the zoo. The interactive stations will highlight the zoo’s animal inhabitants and emphasize how awareness of the natural world and conservation of resources benefits us all.
The zoo has seen a record-breaking number of visitors this year, including more than 7,500 children that came through the zoo in April and May on school trips. Visitors came from all over Idaho and as far as western Wyoming and southeastern Montana.
“The grants will allow us to provide more personal educational experiences for our guests. We thank the generous donors for their contributions and look forward to introducing the exploration stations next spring,” states Zoo Superintendent David Pennock.
The zoo was also awarded an $8,000 Laura Moore Cunningham Foundation grant to go toward an $81,000 water conservation project. The zoo has already obtained more than $61,000 in cash donations and value-in-kind services. The plan includes major alterations to the zoo’s water systems that will reduce monthly water usage from 2.3 million gallons to 2,500 gallons.
“The zoo has more than 330 animals that need continuous access to water, including several aquatic or semi-aquatic animal species such as penguins, river otters and waterfowl,” explains Pennock. “As a result, the zoo uses large quantities of water. Water use at the zoo is magnified by aging water systems that are inefficient and result in the waste of millions of gallons of water each month. The systems were developed and installed at a time when little consideration was given for the conservation of water. One of the core missions of the zoo is the conservation of all natural resources which includes being better stewards of one of our most precious resources,” adds Pennock.
Conservation efforts have focused on two main ponds at the zoo. The first pond provides a home for the white pelicans and various species of water fowl including the tundra swans. Nearby is the second outdoor pond for a colony of 18 endangered black-footed penguins. To correct the major water usage at the two largest ponds, appropriate pumps, filters, and aeration systems are being added, and the bottom of the duck pond has been cemented and sealed. When complete, each pool will re-circulate water independently.
In addition, many animal enclosures throughout the zoo have small concrete pools for animals to drink and bath in. Appropriate systems will be installed in the 18 smaller pools to make them more efficient and capable of withstanding freezing temperatures.
Idaho Falls Mayor Rebecca Casper states, “The employees have done a tremendous job to ensure that the animals and environment are cared for and protected, and that the public has access to quality educational opportunities. We extend our gratitude to North Wind, Leichtweis Enterprise and the Laura Moore Cunningham Foundation for partnering with the zoo in these efforts.”
Media Note: For more information or to schedule an interview with zoo staff, contact Public Information Officer, Kerry Hammon.
About Idaho Falls Zoo at Tautphaus Park: With more than 330 animals representing over 130 species from around the globe, the Idaho Falls Zoo has the largest collection of animals in the state and is considered the “Best Little Zoo in the West.” The Idaho Falls Zoo is also the first zoo in Idaho to be accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums and sees an average of 123,000 visitors annually which is 211 percent of the population of Idaho Falls and 119 percent of the population of Bonneville County. Learn more on our website.
About Tautphaus Park Zoological Society: TPZS has been an active supporter of the Idaho Falls Zoo since its formation in 1992. In 2015, TPZS raised over $80,000 to fund a new education center at the zoo.