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On Earth Day, National Zoo Preaches And Practices Conservation

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Frank Clements, park manager at the National Zoo, sats the Zoo uses the rain barrels to prevent runoff into Rock Creek and then recycles the water for its gardens.
Jessica Gould
Frank Clements, park manager at the National Zoo, sats the Zoo uses the rain barrels to prevent runoff into Rock Creek and then recycles the water for its gardens.

Zoo curator Teresa Vetick is teaching children how to make planter pots out of old newspapers. But Zoo director Dennis Kelly says that's only one of the earth-friendly activities happening at the Zoo these days. He says the Zoo is installing rain barrels and building new, pervious surfaces.

"It's a great way to prevent the runoff and picking up pollutants that go into Rock Creek," he says.

The Zoo is even beginning to treat and recycle the water animals use in their swimming pools.

"It's hard to put a swimming diaper on an elephant or seals and sea lions but yet that water is perfectly clean because of how we're taking care of it," he says.

Kelly says the goal is to make the zoo a model of conservation.

"We want people to think about the connections they made, extinctions that happened in the past, extinctions going on today, and small changes you can make, from a rain barrel to the food choices you make have an impact," he says. "Making a small change can make a difference."

Five-year-old Natalie Peterson says she knows just what to do.

"I'm going to plant a sunflower seed," she says.

And then, she says, it's going to grow.

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