Wild Lights saves electricity with energy-efficient LED lights

ROYAL OAK, Mich., Nov. 25, 2013 – The Detroit Zoological Society (DZS) is dreaming of a green Christmas ... and Hanukkah ... and Kwanzaa by incorporating elements of its Greenprint sustainability plan into Detroit Zoo events and operations this holiday season.

After nearly a decade, the Zoo has brought back Wild Lights, a holiday light display featuring more than two million LED lights on buildings, animal sculptures and trees. The event had become too costly and was not energy efficient; however, the increased use of LEDs on holiday lighting has provided an eco-friendly alternative. A 100-bulb string of traditional lights uses the same electricity as 42 100-bulb strings of LED lights.

"We're very excited to bring back Wild Lights and even more so to do it in a green way," said Ron Kagan, DZS Executive Director and CEO.

In addition, the Detroit Zoo has recycled and refurbished many of the light sculptures from previous Wild Lights. The Zoo last held the event in 2004.

Service Systems Associates – operator of concessions and retail services at the Detroit Zoo – is using eco-friendly products and sustainable solutions in its holiday catering and retail operations. Holiday decorations – including animal-shaped ornaments made from recycled materials and one filled with wildflower seeds to be planted after the holidays – are available at Zoofari Market as well as Santa's Toy Box in the Ford Education Center during Wild Lights.

The DZS's animal care staff utilizes recycled materials such as boxes, bags, wrapping paper rolls and other items for holiday enrichment for the animals. In addition, unused, untreated Christmas trees are provided for the bears and great apes, who enjoy eating, tossing, carrying and rolling the trees.

The Detroit Zoological Society offers these tips for keeping the holidays green at home:
• Use LED lights instead of traditional lights.
• In lieu of buying decorations, deck the halls with natural materials such as gourds, branches and berries.
• Purchase locally sourced food and produce for holiday meals, and compost scraps such as vegetable and fruit peels, coffee grounds and eggshells.
• Take reusable bags for holiday shopping.
• Combine errands into one trip to reduce emissions.
• Send holiday greetings electronically.
• Reuse ribbons, bows and wrapping paper, or make wrappings with magazines, newspapers or cloth.
• Give something green that will last the whole year, such as a plant or seeds.

The Greenprint is the DZS's plan to refine and improve daily practices and facilities, develop new policies and programs and improve green literacy in the community. To learn more, visit http://www.detroitzoo.org/about/greenprint.