Potter Park Zoo to host Earth Day event

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Community member Maddy Warren leaves the zoo after its 5 p.m. closing on March 31.

Potter Park Zoo will be hosting Party for the Planet from noon  to 4 p.m. April 23 to celebrate Earth Day.

The Association of Zoos and Aquariums encourages accredited zoos across the country to host events. More than 120 zoos and aquariums are participating.

Potter Park Zoo invited community organizations related to conservation to share about their organizations. Conservation Education Coordinator Megan Weidman hopes the organizations can also teach guests about environmental issues.

“(The organizations) don’t just focus on animals, but look at all different parts of the environment,” Weidman said. “Looking at water and trees and plants and the air and all kinds of different environmental factors.”

The zoo’s education team plans this event by organizing activities and reaching out to community partners asking for their involvement. 

“I have a special passion for getting people involved in conservation,” Weidman said. “I love planning this event, this is one of my big things throughout the year. I like giving folks the information that they need to help them make choices that are going to help the world as a whole.”

This year, the association chose the theme “Healthy Habitat.” 

“We’re gonna be trying to encourage folks to have healthy habitats around their homes and to contribute to healthy habitats in their communities as well,” Weidman said.

Party for the Planet is included in general admission. Guests who visit during the four hours can interact with exhibits and conservation stations. They can take a souvenir magnet home with a pledge to do a simple task that’s healthy for the planet. There will also be giveaways such as reusable straws and animal trading cards. 

Executive Director Amy Morris-Hall said, “The whole purpose of our organization is to be a change agent in regard to conservation. The only way we’re going to do that is if we connect with people on a level that they can understand and give them some specific actions that they can take in their own lives.”

Learning Program Coordinator Jennifer Horvatin said the event typically expects families. Families attending will have the opportunity to sign up for a future volunteer event.

“The only way that we’re going to be able to help the Earth and the conservation crisis and climate change and all of that is if people are aware,” Horvatin said. “So that is why we focus on conservation messaging and conservation events like Party for the Planet, just so people get the message and learn about it. The first step to changing anything is awareness.”

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