How You Can Help

Wildlife populations around the world are in decline due to habitat loss, pollution, and other human impacts. The good news is that conservation efforts work, and there are many simple actions you can take to help wildlife and wild places!

Choose sustainably sourced palm oil

Palm oil is found in nearly half the products on grocery store shelves, including candy, cookies, cosmetics, and detergents. Most palm oil comes from Indonesia and Malaysia, where vast tracts of rainforest are cleared for oil palm plantations. This unsustainable practice destroys habitat for thousands of species including orangutans, rhinos, elephants, and tigers.

Products from companies certified by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) contain palm oil that is grown with more sustainable methods, although the certification standards are controversial. Another alternative is to replace some of your packaged snack foods with more fresh fruits, vegetables, and home baked goods made with 100% corn, canola, or sunflower oil.

For a list of 30 names palm oil can be labeled under, click here.

For more information on palm oil, including a list of brands that use certified sustainable palm oil, visit the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo’s website.

Buy sustainable seafood

As a result of our increasing demand for seafood, it is estimated we have already removed up to 90% of the large predatory fish such as sharks, swordfish, cod, and tuna, as we are catching them faster than they can reproduce. Because fish are becoming more difficult to find in the wild, some countries are turning to collecting juvenile fish from the wild and “farming” them in floating net pens. Unfortunately, this practice still contributes to population decline and is associated with negative impacts such as pollution and spread of disease.

As a consumer, you can remove the economic incentive for overharvest by not buying fish that are on the brink of extinction or harvested in ways that damage marine environments. Instead, educate yourself on which seafood items are sustainable by picking up a free Seafood Watch pocket guide from the zoo’s Secrets of the Forest room, or download one from the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s website.

Re-think your coffee

What does your morning cup of coffee have to do with wildlife? In response to a growing demand for coffee, tropical forests are being cleared to plant new coffee varieties that produce more beans, but require full sun. This loss of forest habitat has resulted in population declines of migratory songbirds and other tropical species. As a consumer, you can help slow habitat loss by thinking twice about brewing more coffee than you’re really going to drink, and by purchasing shadegrown coffee certified as “bird-friendly” by the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center.

Use non-lead ammunition

Scavengers like bald eagles, condors, and ravens are vulnerable to lead poisoning when they ingest lead fragments in the carcasses and gut piles left behind by hunters. Lead poisoning also threatens numerous waterfowl and upland game birds who mistake lead shot for food. If you are a hunter, consider using bullets made of copper alloys. They perform as well or better than lead bullets, and are less toxic both to wildlife and to those who are consuming the game. If you choose to use lead ammunition, bury the gut piles from harvested game so they are not accessible to scavengers.