For more than two decades, Tucson Electric Power has helped the Reid Park Zoo move animals, build enclosures and sponsor conservation education programs.
Animals weighing thousands of pounds — like elephants and rhinos — need special care when they’re moved. TEP routinely provides the heavy equipment (such as cranes and forklifts), and employees volunteer their off-duty time to do the job.
TEP recently helped move Fireball, an 11-year-old white rhino that arrived from Ohio. Using a large utility forklift, TEP volunteers moved Fireball’s crate into position so he could be eased into his new habitat. Watch Fireball’s relocation via YouTube.
“Whenever you’re transporting a large animal, you want to take special precautions. It’s not the same as moving your family pet,” Zoo Administrator Jason Jacobs said. “We want to make it as seamless as possible. This is where TEP’s support has been tremendously helpful.”
With approximately 600,000 visitors annually, the zoo is the most attended gated attraction in Tucson, with a three-pronged mission: recreation, education and conservation.
TEP donated utility poles to enclose the zoo’s perimeter and some exhibits, such as the elephant habitat, Expedition Tanzania.
“We put in a new fence over two weekends while the elephants watched from their barn,” said Sharon Foltz, TEP’s Community Relations Manager. While the new habitat was under construction, TEP also put a temporary fence across the rhino enclosure to keep the animals safely away from construction traffic.
“If we can save the zoo from having to rent a crane, the money can be used instead for its programs,” Foltz said.
The zoo’s Conservation Learning Center, which opened in 2008, was the first LEED Platinum facility at any zoo in the country, and the first building with that certification in Southern Arizona. TEP assisted the zoo throughout its planning and construction efforts to meet the aggressive sustainability goals.
TEP also has provided high-efficiency LED lighting for the ever-popular Zoo Lights event, which attracts about 40,000 people each year. “A big part of our success is the help we receive from TEP,” Jacobs said. “We’re very lucky to have their support.”
TEP is the only company that has been a sponsor for 21 years, said Nancy Schlegel, President of the Reid Park Zoological Society: “I can’t imagine any other corporate partner that helps in such diverse ways.”