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Paignton Zoo Environmental Park has been recognised for its environmental work.

The Zoo – a registered charity – picked up silver in the Sustainable Tourism category at the 2012 Visit Devon Tourism Awards at a ceremony in North Devon on Thursday 22nd November. The Zoo was one of 37 finalists from across the county.

Spokesperson Phil Knowling said: “It is very important to be recognised by a key body like Visit Devon. As a charity dedicated to the conservation of animals and plants, the Zoo links the loss of habitat and species to environmental change and sustainability. Our aim is to reduce our impact in all areas and to show our visitors and supporters how they can do the same.”

The Zoo is accredited to the Devon Environmental Business Initiative and holds Gold status in the Green Tourism Business Scheme. It has an externally audited Environmental Management System that guides and reviews the management of the 80-acre site. Considered an international leader in its sector, it was one of first zoos in the world to be awarded the ISO 14001 environmental standard.

Entrants in this category must demonstrate proven commitment to sustainable best practice. Paignton Zoo uses a variety of initiatives to control the use of energy and water, to reduce waste and to communicate the sustainability message to its 450,000 annual visitors.

Heat pumps help to reduce energy consumption in the enclosures of exotic animals, while advanced energy monitoring equipment collects data every 30 seconds on the electricity consumption of 13 large exhibits. Solar panels were installed on the Zoo’s Amphibian Ark centre thanks to a grant from ATASS Respect. The Zoo uses rainwater harvesting to reduce water consumption, as well as low water toilets and waterless urinals. A recycling strategy means that the Zoo recycles 75% of waste, reducing waste sent to landfill or incineration.

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