Zoo – A Smarter Approach To Animal Comfort And Sustainability


A new environmental management plan at Adelaide Zoo is paying dividends with less waste going to landfill, reductions in water use and better conditions for the animals. Reductions in energy consumption are also being achieved with the help of the ZOO (Zone of Occupancy) destratification fan.

Adelaide Zoo is home to more than 2,500 animals from 250 species. Since opening its gates in 1883, zoo staff have worked hard to maintain the eight hectare site and ensure the welfare of its residents, but this is a costly exercise.

Sustainability Officer Wayne Yorath said the environmental management plan was more than just saving money; it was a smarter approach that used available resources and reduced the carbon footprint. “By adding new waste streams for recycling we have increased the recovery rate from 54% in 2009 to 83% in 2013 and annual bore water use has reduced nearly six-fold. Adelaide Zoo is the only metropolitan-based zoo owned and operated by a not-for-profit conservation organisation (Zoos SA), so every cent counts,” he said.

Further opportunities to reduce energy consumption and water use in specific exhibits were identified in an eco-efficiency review commissioned under the Zero Waste SA Industry Program.

“One of the difficulties of working with so many different animals from different parts of the world is maintaining a suitable climate,” Wayne said. “For example, orangutans originate from the tropical jungles of Borneo and Sumatra, where the year round day time temperature is between 25-35°C and evenings rarely falling below 20°C. Electrically heated concrete slabs were originally the only source of heating to keep breeding pair Karta and Kluet warm during Adelaide’s cold winter months, but they are costly to run and do little to warm the surrounding air.”

Wayne said the orangutans were housed in a 230sqm building designed with a 5.8m high ceiling and north facing windows in the ceiling alcove to capture light and heat from the sun. However the heat was not being utilised; it stayed at ceiling level and was exhausted via the evaporative air-conditioning relief louvres. “To take advantage of this ‘free heat’ we sealed the space and motorised the louvres, linking their opening and closing to the air conditioner operation. Two thermostatically controlled ZHF30 – ZOO destratification fans from Fantech were installed in the ceiling to cycle the warm air to ground level, mixing and maintaining a constant uniform temperature within the orangutan night quarters and food preparation area.”

Wayne said data loggers showed the fans increased the internal air temperature at ground level by 3°C. This will improve further with the installation of a fan forced gas heater to compliment the destratification units. “The ZOO fans are really quiet and have not phased the residents at all, which is really encouraging from a husbandry perspective as orangutans are pretty sensitive,” he said. .