The Toledo Zoo- Promoting the Oak Openings
Through their Wild Toledo Initiative, the Toledo Zoo is creating native Oak Openings prairie habitat on Zoo grounds by planting wildflowers and prairie grasses. Native prairie habitat also blends cost-effective use of Zoo resources with their commitment to decrease their carbon footprint. Converting some of the mowed lawns to prairie habitat will increase plant diversity and provide food resources for animals, which increases animal diversity. Many native birds and pollinators (like butterflies) benefit from such plantings. These plantings require less maintenance than mowed areas, which saves resources like fossil fuels and staff time. The prairie plants will beautify these areas while managing rain and runoff better than turf grass. Three unused parcels within the Zoo, totaling 2.7 acres, are being restored to native prairie habitat.
The Toledo Zoo, in a partnership with city of Toledo, has planted 1.1 acres of the Anthony Wayne Trail median. This median planting is a critical step in experimenting with this form of land conversion in Lucas County. When successful, the hope is to expand this project to other parts of the county.
The Toledo Zoo had a custom seed mix of 33 species drilled into the ground, by Ohio Prairie Nursery. By August, 2013, this mix already had four species in bloom. Although several non-native species are still present, the prairie species will out-compete them over the next few years. The results will be an aesthetically pleasing, natural landscape that requires limited management.
Learn more about the Toledo Zoo by clicking here.