News Release

September 13, 2011

Contact: Steve Pine
Public Relations

“Acres for the Atmosphere” Digging In for Polar Bears This Saturday
Conservation Team Planting Trees at Brookfield Zoo to Help Threatened Species

     Brookfield, Ill.—The atmosphere around Brookfield Zoo will be a little cleaner after this weekend, thanks to a conservation team digging in and getting their hands dirty. This Saturday, September 17, Brookfield Zoo’s main parking lot will be the site for 30 new trees, including sugar maples, crab apples, locusts, lindens, and hackberries. Beginning at 7:00 a.m., teens from the Youth Volunteer Corps, volunteers from the Advanced Inquiry Program of the Chicago Zoological Society, and zoo staff will plant the trees as part of “Acres for the Atmosphere.”

“Acres for the Atmosphere” is a roll-up-your-sleeves tree-planting and educational effort involving chapters of the American Association of Zoo Keepers (AAZK), of which Brookfield Zoo is a member; zoos throughout North America; and Polar Bears International’s (PBI) Arctic Ambassador Centers, which are located in more than 35 zoos. The program was founded by graduates of the 2009 PBI Zoo Keeper Leadership Camp.

The goal in planting the trees is to offset the effects that climate change is having on not only polar bears but all species that are and will potentially be impacted by it. Working together, organizations such as the Chicago Zoological Society, AAZK, and PBI can help increase carbon sequestration by greening areas with vegetative plantings or trees, decrease carbon dioxide emissions, and raise awareness in local communities in order to curb carbon addiction. According to Maine’s Department of Conservation, a tree uses 1.47 pounds of carbon dioxide and gives off 1.07 pounds of oxygen to grow a pound of wood. An acre of trees might grow 4,000 pounds of wood in a year using 5,880 pounds of carbon dioxide and giving off 4,280 pounds of oxygen in the process, thus helping reduce greenhouse gases and making a difference in this global challenge.

During the event, Christy Mazrimas-Ott—a senior keeper for the Chicago Zoological Society, which manages Brookfield Zoo—will engage participants in a discussion about why planting trees is important to polar bears and will have them pledge one thing they can do in their everyday lives to help reduce carbon emissions. Everyone is invited to go online and also pledge to reduce their carbon footprint by going to or

The mission of the Chicago Zoological Society, which manages Brookfield Zoo, is to inspire conservation leadership by connecting people with wildlife and nature. Open every day of the year, Brookfield Zoo is located off First Avenue between the Stevenson (I-55) and Eisenhower (I-290) expressways and is also accessible via the Tri-State Tollway (I-294), Metra commuter line, CTA, and PACE bus service.
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