News / Arts & Entertainment

Zoo Carousel Combines Conservation with Fun

The animals depicted on the Smithsonian National Zoo's Conservation Carousel in Washington, D.C., include many endangered species. (VOA/J. Taboh)
The animals depicted on the Smithsonian National Zoo's Conservation Carousel in Washington, D.C., include many endangered species. (VOA/J. Taboh)
The Smithsonian’s National Zoo in Washington D.C., is known for its giant pandas and other exotic animals.

But a different kind of animal-themed attraction has captivated visitors since opening this past November.
 
Sunny-side up

At first glance, the zoo's Speedwell Foundation Conservation Carousel looks like any ordinary merry-go-round.

But this latest draw at the popular zoological park is special in two ways.

First, it's solar powered; one of only two carousels in the world which run on sunlight.

Chuck Fillah, the zoo’s associate director of planning, says the idea of solar power came about because the zoo wanted to send a message about conservation.

Solar panels on the roof power the National Zoo's Conservation Carousel, one of only two worldwide which runs on sunlight. (VOA/J. Taboh)Solar panels on the roof power the National Zoo's Conservation Carousel, one of only two worldwide which runs on sunlight. (VOA/J. Taboh)
x
Solar panels on the roof power the National Zoo's Conservation Carousel, one of only two worldwide which runs on sunlight. (VOA/J. Taboh)
Solar panels on the roof power the National Zoo's Conservation Carousel, one of only two worldwide which runs on sunlight. (VOA/J. Taboh)
​The entire south part of the carousel’s rooftop is covered with 162 solar panels.

“Each one generates so many watts of electricity,” says Fillah, “and the power that’s generated during the day by the sun runs the carousel.”

Excess energy captured by the solar panels is routed to the zoo’s grid to power lights for the buildings and animal exhibits.  

The carousel’s ability to run on the sun’s rays impresses young visitors like 10-year-old Devin.

“I think it’s great that it’s solar-powered because it shows that you don’t need all this technology and man-made energy to have a fun ride,” Devin says.

Animal menagerie

The carousel's other special feature is the 56 hand-carved and painted figures representing creatures from all over the world.

About 40 animals depicted on the carousal live in exhibits at the zoo or at its research facility in nearby Virginia.

Sun Powers Zoo's Conservation Carouseli
|| 0:00:00
X
February 01, 2013 2:45 PM
The Smithsonian’s National Zoo in Washington DC is known for its giant pandas and other exotic animals. But a different kind of animal-themed attraction has captivated visitors since it opened this past November. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.


They include many endangered species such as the giant panda, Komodo dragon and the ever popular cheetah.

The African lion, endangered Sumatran Tiger and Western lowland gorilla are also popular, on and off the carousel.

Chuck Fillah says the idea behind the carousel was to raise awareness about the plight of endangered animals and their disappearing habitats.

“We put the animals together in four different habitats,” he says, “because animals and habitats are two things that really need to be thought about in conservation. So we have animals grouped in grasslands, oceans, desert and forest.”

There are also two custom-designed handicap-accessible chariots.

The zoo's conservation message seems to resonate with visitor Abdelrhman Elabbasi, 11.  

“A lot of these animals are endangered and they might become extinct,” he says, “but what they’re doing right now is helping them not become extinct.”

The Murchake sisters from nearby Virginia, agree.

“I think that’s really cool because it brings awareness to the animals,” says Fiona, who is 12. “And we get to see what animals are endangered and maybe we can look in a little deeper and see how we can help those animals.”

Fillah says children learning about the zoo while enjoying themselves is what their conservation message is all about.

“Our hope for the carousel at Smithsonian's National Zoo is to have people have fun and learn about animals and their habitats,” he says. “To make a connection about nature, and to go away maybe thinking about something they learned here.”

He says he’s been contacted by a number of zoos interested in creating conservation carousels of their own.

You May Like

IS Militants Release 49 Turkish Hostages

Turkey's state-run Anadolu news agency reports that no ransom was paid and no conditions accepted for the hostages' release; few details of the release are known More

Photogallery IS Attacks Send Thousands of Syrian Kurds Fleeing to Turkey

Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says more than 300 Kurdish fighters crossed into Syria from Turkey to defend a Kurdish area from attack by the Islamic militants More

Video Sierra Leone's Ebola Lockdown Continues

Thousands of health workers are going door to door in the West African country of 6 million, informing people of how to avoid Ebola, handing out soap More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Fears Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’i
X
Jeff Seldin
September 20, 2014 10:28 PM
Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Fears Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’

Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Obama Goes to UN With Islamic State, Ebola on Agenda

President Obama goes to the United Nations General Assembly to rally nations to support a coalition against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. He also will look for nations to back his plan to fight the Ebola virus in West Africa. As VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports, Obama’s efforts reflect new moves by the U.S. administration to take a leading role in addressing world crises.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid

New in Music Alley

The Hamilton Live

Trumpeter, percussionist and bandleader Etienne Charles was born in Trinidad and blends island rhythms with modern jazz. He and his stellar band perform a rich gumbo of jazz, calypso, reggae, and rock-steady that Charles calls “Creole Soul” on "The Hamilton Live."