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

Video Drug Use Rises in Afghanistan

Ninety percent of world’s heroin comes from Afghanistan More

Here's Your Chance to Live in a Deserted Shopping Mall

About one-third of the 1200 enclosed malls in the US are dead or dying. Here's what's being done with them. More

Video NASA: Big Antarctica Ice Shelf Is Disintegrating

US space agency’s new study indicates Larsen B shelf could break up in just a few years 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.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs

New in Music Alley

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Harry Wayne Casey – “KC” of KC and the Sunshine Band – comes to VOA’s Studio 4 to talk with "Border Crossings" host Larry London and perform songs from his new album, “Feeling You! The 60s.”