Seal of Dane County County of Dane
County Executive's Office

Henry Vilas Zoo To Celebrate Earth Day Saturday With Family Friendly Events

April 17, 2014
Casey Slaughter Becker, Office of the County Executive (608) 267-8823 or cell (608) 843-8858 or Jeff Halter, Deputy Zoo Director (608) 515-8805
County Executive


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The Henry Vilas Zoo is inviting the public to celebrate Earth Day this Saturday with a number of fun, free, family friendly events focused on educating everyone about the importance of biodiversity in our world.


The celebration will take place at the Henry Vilas Zoo this Saturday, April 19thfrom 10am to 2pm. The zoo will remain open after the celebration, with animal buildings open until 4pm and zoo grounds open until 5pm.


“The Henry Vilas Zoo is a leader in environmental education and conservation,” said Dane County Executive Joe Parisi. “We hope visitors will join the zoo this Saturday and learn how they can help in their own way through free, family-friendly Earth Day events.”


Biodiversity is an important indicator of ecosystem health, and many factors affect biodiversity in a habitat.  For example, the introduction of invasive species, habitat loss from logging, or building, and the effects from pollution, poaching, and collecting animals for the pet trade.


Children can learn more about biodiversity (the number of species in an area) with a free MG&E Earth Day Fun Book. The book includes information on the saolas, a beautiful species similar in looks to an antelope. Soalas were only recently discovered, and are critically endangered due to poaching.


Children will also be able to protect biodiversity in their own backyard by picking up a free tree seedling to plant at home, courtesy of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. Kohl's A Team volunteers will also be on hand to help with the distribution of seedlings.


Planting trees will can be especially important to replace the biodiversity that could be lost as the Emerald Ash Borer moves into Dane County.


The zoo will also sell art to highlight the threat that poaching poses to animals and their habitats. ‘Catching Hope’ is a poaching snare recovery project in which snares are repurposed into hand crafted art.  The snares have been collected from the Annamite Mountains of Laos and Vietnam, protecting the wildlife in the region.


Sales and donations will support the training of local people to remove more snares. In the first three years of the project, 30,000 poaching snares were removed. Many species of primates, deer, birds, reptiles, and tigers live in this rare ecosystem and are being heavily poached for the black-market trade.


A full listing of Earth Day activities at the zoo can be found below:


•          Distribution of 1250 saplings – courtesy of Wisconsin DNR, available while supplies last

•          Emerald Ash Borer beetle information – courtesy of the Wisconsin DNR

•          Kids' Tree Climb – courtesy of the Dane County Regional Arborist Group

•          Solar Energy Trailer courtesy of MG&E

•          Earth Day Fun Books – courtesy of MG&E, available while supplies last

•          Face Painting - proceeds will support wild saola conservation

•          Re-purposed poaching snare for sale

•          Free Kids’ Crafts

•          Education Animals

•          Henry the Lion Zoo Mascot


Additional information can also be found on the zoo’s Facebook page at


Guests can visit the Henry Vilas Zoo animal family every day from 9:30am to 5pm. All animal buildings are open from 10-4.


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