An Alexandra Park Zoo trainee is growing plants on site to maintain a steady food supply for the facility's white throated snapping turtles while reducing its carbon footprint.
The critically endangered white throated snapping turtles (Elseya albagula) have a healthy appetite and a penchant for thin vallisneria and pennywort.
Alexandra Park Zoo trainee Connor Latter initiated a plant grow set up to tackle this, and explained that while the grow was still in its early stages, the zoo had big plans for the project.
“The weekly plant delivery to the zoo by our nearest suitable supplier involves an approximate 780km round trip, which comes to an estimated 38,480 km travelled annually,” he said.
“Once our plants are established the zoo will be able to cease all fossil fuels generated by these deliveries.
“In addition the plants will improve the filtration of the turtle’s ponds, reduce nitrate and phosphate levels and ensure the zoo has a secure food supply if countrywide shortages of these plant species were to occur.
“There is also the added benefit of the turtles consuming micro-organisms attracted to the plants, which don’t often survive the packing and transportation process.”
This project is of particular significance as the zoo begins its journey towards eco-certification and commitment to re-designing operations and practices in support of environmental sustainability.
Alexandra Park Zoo Group Supervisor Kate Beskeen said the zoo team was highly supportive of Connor’s efforts, particularly as it represented the first of many projects the zoo hoped to achieve in support of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
“Energy related carbon dioxide emissions increased last year to the highest levels ever recorded, these types of projects not only target tangible ways our zoo can help reduce emissions but present conversations we can have with our zoo visitors about the direction we are taking,” she said.
Alexandra Park Zoo is home to three white throated snapping turtles, Elsey, Alby and Milbi.
This critically endangered species is only found in the Burnett, Fitzroy, and Mary River systems of Central Queensland.
Find out more about Alexandra Pak Zoo here.