Log in

AZH Newsletter

  • August 23, 2018 12:28 PM | Anonymous


    Sacramento Zoo Plant ID Signage  Michaele Bergera, Sacramento Zoological Society

    Background:    In 2014, the Sacramento Zoo’s director passed away unexpectedly. The interim director requested that I replace the plant identification signs that were in place at the time and had them removed. Since then, I have been working to get them replaced. The cost of replacing the signs for our entire collection of plants and trees was too high for us to do all at once, so I was asked to prioritize the list. In the meantime, the zoo went through rebranding, another change of leadership, and unfortunately the project was put on hold during each transition. Thanks to the Wendy Andrews Cultivation Grant, in both 2017 and 2018, I was able to start labeling plants once more! The Sacramento Zoo has a new director, and I am happy to say that he seems very supportive of the horticulture department and our efforts to properly identify plants and educate the public!

    The purpose of this project was to create and install identification signs to educate/inform zoo visitors about the plants and trees in our collection. By providing this signage, we hope to show our guests that the Sacramento Zoo values our plant collection as well as our animal collection. Plant Identification signs add to our guest experience by providing an additional educational opportunity. Thanks to the funding provided by the AZH Wendy Andrews Cultivation Grant, I have been able to label an entire garden area.  The plant ID signs will be viewed by over 500,000 guests that visit the Sacramento Zoo annually.

    The signs for this project were installed in early August, in an area that we refer to as the Zoo’s Backyard. It was originally designed to be a demonstration garden for “river-friendly” landscaping and consisted mainly of California native plants. I thought that the signs would have a greater impact if they were placed in one area as opposed to being spread out throughout the zoo. Since the installation of the signs, I have noticed visitors slowing down, taking pictures, and discussing the plants! The full amount of the grant was used to purchase seventy 2” x 4” signs, one 5” x 8” sign, and the stakes to mount them on. The total cost of the project was $1043.25. Thank you to the Association of Zoological Horticulture for your continued support.

  • August 20, 2018 12:33 PM | Anonymous



    The time has arrived! I am packing my bags, placing meetings and lunches in my calendar, and emailing friends and members to see when and where we can find time to catch up over busy conference week. What a week it looks to be: The program committee has done an excellent job arranging some fabulous sounding presentations; The board is set to get down to business with an item-packed agenda; the committees have all submitted their reports to get ready for annual meetings; our host has put together an amazing, informative and action packed itinerary. I am officially excited to start the conference and cross Assiniboine Park off my bucket list!

    Starting off the conference, the 2018 board members will meet together, some for the last time before the new members are on-boarded later in the conference. I would like to thank Nancy Tarver for her 5 years of service to AZH as a board member and officer. I would also like to congratulate and thank Lance Swearengin and Donita Brannon for their continued service as directors-at-large. Finally, please help me congratulate and welcome Dianne Weber as your newly elected director-at-large. I challenge and encourage all members to explore the possibilities of running for office or board assignment in next year’s election. It is an extremely rewarding experience and opportunity to enhance your commitment to the field.

    I am also excited to meet our newest members and first time conference attendees. Conference is the forum for us all to learn from each other’s challenges and successes, share our knowledge and experiences that have the power to unify us together when it can feel a bit alone inside of your own organization, and to reinvigorate your passion for what you do.


    When it comes to business; whether a zoo, an aquarium, an art or history museum, a Fortune 500 company, or a main street coffee shop, it’s about people. People, our guests, are our target market…our “brain capital”…the only way we change the world together. It’s people that you work to educate, to inspire, to create memories for. Our work and our landscapes have the power to do all of that. How do you tell your stories for conservation in your institutions? If your story does not include your flora with your fauna, then you might consider some editing. It is your passion and voice for plant science that engages a holistic message of conservation for zoos and other living museums. Collectively, through AZH, our voice is strong and loud! Do not forget about the other collectives that support you too; your animal care staff, your leadership, other hort organizations, your PEOPLE!

    That about wraps up my rant for the quarter. Hopefully I got you thinking and anxious for some energetic conversations over conference. For those unable to attend this year, feel free to rant back over the Discussion Forum on the website. Also, don’t forget that the program committee works extremely hard to post the proceedings from each conference on the website, so if you miss the opportunity to be there in person, you are still able to have a glimpse on-line.

  • August 19, 2018 12:36 PM | Anonymous


    For at least ten years, scientists have been noting changes in wild koala populations that appear to be linked to the quality of their only food source: eucalyptus. Increases in CO2 levels are causing eucalyptus to grow faster. But faster is not always better. This rapid growth produces foliage that is poorer in nutrients and higher in toxic tannins. Koalas have evolved to be able to process these compounds within certain ranges. These shifts in nutritional content are leading to cases of malnutrition in the animals, and secondarily to higher mortality due to predation and highway collisions as the animals seek out new food sources. Nearly ten years ago, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature published concerns over this phenomenon in 2009, and subsequent studies are underscoring the gravity of these circumstances. There are troublesome implications for many other plant–animal relationships including humans and our heavy global reliance on a small number of plant species. Recent studies suggest that rising CO2 levels are leading to nutritional changes in rice and wheat. —Sandy Masuo

    Read more about climate change and nutritional changes in rice and wheat:


    For more information about climate change and koalas:



  • August 16, 2018 12:37 PM | Anonymous


    AZH promotes the contributions made by horticulture to the success of zoos and the establishment of effective habitat exhibits. To support this mission, AZH established the "AZH Internship Program" to assist zoos in accomplishing projects that enhance the zoo experience and bring attention to the importance of horticulture.   The $1500 stipend is to advance special horticulture related projects and introduce zoo horticulture to a new generation. The funds are not intended to be used for routine garden or grounds maintenance.  More information about the program is found here - https://azh.org/azh-internship-program/

    The 2018 AZH Internship Program Award was awarded to Amy Yarger at the Butterfly Pavilion in Westminster, CO.  This is the second award for Amy and the Butterfly Pavilion from this program.  Details on the program are below.

    Plant Collections Internship 2018


    The purpose of the Plant Collections 2018 internship is to provide an undergraduate horticulture or museum studies student with a thorough training and hands-on practice in the field of planning, designing, and evaluating plant collections in a zoological setting. The Plant Collections intern will work closely with Butterfly Pavilion’s horticulture director to formalize and present the botanical collections plan for Butterfly Pavilion’s new facility, the Center for Invertebrate Research and Conservation (CIRC), which opens in 2021.

    Goal of Project

    The public plant collections at CIRC will offer immersive and engaging natural experiences for our guests and the community at large, while providing ample food and shelter for our captive invertebrates, as well as native invertebrate and vertebrate wildlife. The collections will focus on the flora of tropical, desert and Rocky Mountain environments. The plant collections plan will be updated in 2018 in order to prepare for the design of the new plantings, the acquisition of new species, the transplanting of existing specimens and best management practices. This plan will guide us in assessing risk, identifying sources for plants and evaluating the performance of plants in exhibits and the landscape.

    Objectives for 2018 Plant Collections Internship

    Butterfly Pavilion horticulture internships currently offer undergraduate, graduate and postgraduate students in the plant sciences a semester’s opportunity to gain experience in public garden management, habitat restoration and greenhouse management. This new internship would be a 15-week program (August – December) with involvement in the planning process from the design phase to the acquisition phase.

    • The student will collect and analyze data about performance of the current collections and provide recommendations for transferring current holdings to the new facility.
    • The student will compile information for the propagation or acquisition of new plant specimens for the entire CIRC facility.
    • The student will collaborate with the horticulture director on creating planting layouts for the tropical, desert, Rocky Mountain biome and outdoor gardens and create management plans for each.
    • The intern will complete and present an independent project in the subject of plant collections during that time.


    Action Steps Timeline Staff
    Work with planning team on concept and exhibit  interpretation January 1 – September 30 2018 Horticulture Director, Architects
    Intern onboarding August 20 – September 1, 2018 Volunteer Manager
    Evaluation of current collections: tropical and pollinator gardens August 20 – October 15, 2018 Plant Collections Intern w/ training and support from Horticulture Director
    Concept and design of new exhibits and gardens: desert and Rocky Mountain August 20 – October 15, 2018 Plant Collections Intern w/ training and support from Horticulture Director
    Independent project proposal submitted September 1. 2018 Plant Collections Intern w/ training and support from Horticulture Director
    Compile best practices for transplantation, propagation, acquisition and management October 1 – December 1, 2018 Plant Collections Intern w/ training and support from Horticulture Director
    Intern midterm evaluation October 15, 2018 Horticulture Director
    Independent project presented to staff and volunteers December 10, 2018 Plant Collections Intern
    Final evaluation December 15, 2018 Plant Collections Intern, Horticulture Director
  • August 15, 2018 12:39 PM | Anonymous


    Did you know that AZH has produced online courses available through San Diego Zoo Global Academy?

    Browse & Toxic Plants and Responsible Water Use are available online via this online learning platform.  IPM course is still in construction but we hope to have that up and running soon.  Instructions to access the courses (and many others) is found below.

    The Association of Zoological Horticulture Collaborative Learning Environment® provides an interactive peer-to-peer learning environment to allow you to communicate, spread ideas, share resources, discuss topics and learn in a safe environment.

    Registration Instructions for AZH Courses

    There are multiple ways to access the AZH courses. You may take the course through the AZH private academy (e-learning site), your institutions private academy, or through San Diego Zoo Global Academy (SDZGA). Included below are instructions for each scenario. We diligently worked through each avenue, but complications may arise. You may contact the CollaborNation helpline (CypherWorx) at (888) 685- 4440.

    For AZH members whose organizations have a private academy (elearning site): You can access the course through San Diego Zoo Global Academy. Once you join your private academy, you may need to request access to SDZGA from CypherWorx – (888) 685-4440.

    1. Login to your Once in, click on the drop down tab in the top right corner of your screen titled “Select a Site.” You will see a drop down list – select the San Diego Zoo Global Academy.
    2. On the top menu bar click on Course Catalog.
    3. Scroll down to the “Browse by Category” menu on the right side. Click on the AZH category to pull up the course. You may also enter the course title into the Search Catalog
    4. Click on the “Learn More”
    5. Click on the “Add to Cart”
    6. Enter the AZH member coupon code. AZHMEMBER50%
    7. Continue the checkout process.

    For AZH members who are not members of an academy (private elearning site): You can join the AZH Academy at https://collabornation.net/login/azh or through the link at http://azh.org/azh-course-registration/ (click on Registration Instructions)

    1. Log in to your AZH account.
    2. Register into the CollaborNation AZH eLearning site. There is a $25.00 joining
    3. On the top menu bar click on Course Catalog.
    4. Find the “Browse and Toxic Plants” course in the listing.
    5. Click on the “Learn More”
    6. Click on the “Add to Cart”
    7. Enter the AZH member coupon code. AZHMEMBER50%
    8. Continue the checkout process.
  • August 13, 2018 12:40 PM | Anonymous


    Hello AZH!

    The 4 recipients of the 2018 Wendy Andrew Cultivation Grant have been busy making great progress on their projects that we take great pride in being able to assist with funding. The following institutions have reported reaching positive milestones in their efforts:

    Butterfly Pavilion—Browse Café

    In late May, volunteers planted veggies, fruit, herbs and edible flowers for stick insects, beetles and roaches w/ volunteers (see list in Appendix) in northeast corner of Discovery Garden, which includes in-ground crops, raised beds and container plantings. These plantings are regularly cared for by horticulture staff and volunteers. Right now, we have primarily greens, herbs and flowers available to harvest. Horticulture staff and volunteers collect harvest and provides to animal care staff on a twice-weekly basis. Horticulture staff hand-painted labels for each crop, so that even self-guided visitors to the garden can identify the plants being grown as browse.

    The summer season begins this week with our youth volunteering program orientation. These kids will work with homeschool students and summer campers to plant additional crops, water, weed and care for the food crops. Regular “garden safaris” also allow zoo guests to participate in growing food for our animals. It’s fun for the guests to learn that our animals enjoy many of the same foods that they do, even if they utilize different parts of the plants from humans. Horticulture staff worked closely with our educators to develop the appropriate curricula and buy the props and supplies needed to keep the program going all summer. 

    Rolling Hills Zoo—Bringing Bees Back to the Garden

    The construction for the foundation of the bee hives was built April 12-13th. This construction included a 2 x 6 wooden frame that was leveled from the grade and backfilled. The frame was then filled with crushed limestone followed by a 2 x 4 wood cedar frame that was placed and leveled on top of the limestone.

    RHZ staff installed and prepared the brood boxes for the arrival of the bees on April 16, 2018. Then two of the three Nucs* arrived and were installed in the brood boxes on April 23rd. The third Nuc will be installed at a later date. The Nucs, or nucleus colonies, are small honey bee colonies created from larger colonies. The term refers both to the smaller size box and the colony of honeybees within it. The name is derived from the fact that a nuc hive is centered on a queen, the nucleus of the honey bee colony.

    To-date, the bee colonies are thriving and gathering pollen, thus lessening their reliance on the sugar water which was provided to the colonies when they arrived.

    The equipment that we have purchased so far includes two bee suits plus gloves, three full bee hive box setups, and a bee brush. Other equipment will be purchased as needed.

    At this time we are in the process of developing the wording and graphics for the signage leading up to and at the bee hives. This signage will talk about the decline in honeybee populations in the US, the importance of the bees to our ecosystem and the inter-relational importance of bees in our world,   Signage will also talk about the bees themselves and the complexities of bee keeping.

    Sacramento Zoo—Plant Identification/Signage

    Location of signs (what area of the zoo) has been decided. Quotes have been obtained on the sizes/material of the signs. Preliminary selection of the plants to be labeled has been done, with the final list to be completed by May 31st, 2018. Hope to have the signs ordered by the first week in June and installed by the end of July.

    Zoo New England—Organic Garden

    As of June 2018, we have received 100 sq. feet of lowbush blueberry bushes that will be planted behind the apiary in the organic garden at Franklin Park Zoo. We will be obtaining and planting gooseberry, paw paw, and ostrich ferns shortly.

    Zoo New England Organic Garden

  • August 06, 2018 12:41 PM | Anonymous


    Do you see yourself in a senior role in public horticulture leadership? Are you goal oriented, naturally curious, and someone who produces results?

    Longwood Gardens is now accepting applications for our 2019–2020 Fellows Program – a 13-month residential working and learning experience designed to further develop and refine high-potential individuals' leadership skills. Our tuition-free program offers a monthly stipend, housing, pragmatic and individualized leader development opportunities, and immersion into the business of public horticulture.

    Program content is grounded in the disciplines of leadership, organizational behavior, and nonprofit management and begins with an introspective onboarding process that heightens participants' self-awareness. The program concludes with a two-month field placement assignment and the presentation of a final, collective cohort project that serves the needs of our industry.

    The 2019–2020 Fellows Program begins in June 2019. Cohort applications remain open through October 1, 2018.

    Apply Now
    In-person interviews will be held December 5–7, 2018 (weather dependent). Longwood provides all airfare, lodging, and meals for interview weekend.
  • July 26, 2018 12:50 PM | Anonymous



    Take action for plant conservation

    Next month, Congress is on recess and your elected official will be working in their home district. August is the perfect time to contact your Representative and ask them to support plant conservation legislation. Please take this time to write to, email, phone, or visit your Representative in person and ask them to support the Botany Bill.


    Last week, Senator Mazie Hirono of Hawaii, introduced the Botanical Sciences and Native Plant Materials Research, Restoration, and Promotion Act (S.3240).  The bill encourages federal land management agencies to hire botanists, conduct research on native plant materials, and incorporate native plants in projects on federal lands when feasible. In 2017 this bill, commonly called the Botany Bill, (H.R.1054) was introduced in the House of Representatives. More information on the House bill, including the list of 24 cosponsors to date. Track the progress of the Senate bill and to see if your Senator is a cosponsor. See Center for Plant Conservation position paper on the Botany Bill.

    What to do

    1. Find the contact info for your Representative.
    2. Let your elected official know that plant conservation is important to you and ask them to support the House version of the Botany Bill. Here is a sample letter for you to send to your Representative by email, postal mail, or use the letter as talking points and phone or visit their office. If they have cosponsored the bill, thank them. If they have not, ask them to do so.
    3. Tell your friends and family to contact their elected officials to support the Botany Bill and plant conservation.

    Please help us all Save Plants by supporting this historic and forward-thinking legislation.

  • July 22, 2018 2:00 PM | Anonymous


    The San Diego Zoo Global and Center for Plant Conservation offer a free online training course on plant conservation.

    The goal of this course is to lead the fight against extinction by taking a leadership role and collaborating with others to save species from extinction using science-based techniques and fostering collaboration and cooperation. This free, 2.5 hour, beginner’s course is great for new plant conservation hires or interns, students or anyone who wants to better understand the basics of why plants are important and the methods to conserve them.

    Course Instructor(s): self paced

    Cost: Free!

    Launch the training@:

  • July 18, 2018 2:02 PM | Anonymous


    The Jacksonville Zoo’s African Forest build-out continues to make headway with the addition of support structures, walls and a spread of roots for the central tree.

    It’s the one-of-a-kind central tree that is the crux of the project. Each of the ape exhibits in the African Forest will connect to the 42-foot-tall tree via overhead trails similar to the ones in the Land of the Tiger exhibit. The tree structure features an internal spiral staircase that will allow keepers to interact and provide enrichment for the apes in the mesh-enclosed “exhibit.” It will even have an enrichment station that will allow the apes to interact with a touch-screen app.

    The African Forest, a $9 million, four-acre project, incorporates “wellness-inspired design” and will replace the former Great Apes Loop which opened in 1998. The renovation was largely spurred by the groundbreaking Range of the Jaguar exhibit in 2004 and Land of the Tiger in 2014, both of which  won national awards for innovation and quality design.

    At the end of January, the African Forest project sat funded to $7.3 million out of its $9 million price tag. Now, just $400,000 is left to be raised.

    “When we had the zoo folks [from January’s ZACC conference] here, they were amazed at what we have been able to do with so little money,” said construction project manager Cullen Richart.

    The Land of the Tiger exhibit alone cost $9.5 million, according to previous reporting. Range of the Jaguar cost $14.4 million.

    Jacksonville Zoo Primate Update

    The Jacksonville Business Journal got a behind the scenes update on the Jacksonville Zoo's new primate habitat. The centerpiece of the area will be a man made canopied tree that primates will be able to access and climb. There will even be an iPad for them to use, a practice that other zoos have… more

    The Jacksonville Business Journal got a behind the scenes update on the Jacksonville Zoo's new primate habitat. The centerpiece of the area will be a man made canopied tree that primates will be able to access and climb. There will even be an iPad for them to use, a practice that other zoos have implemented. The area is scheduled to open around Labor Day weekend. Here Rumplestiltskin, a lowland gorilla hangs out in the current exhibit which sits behind the new facility. The older exhibit will remain to house animals not on exhibit or retired animals.

    9 photos

    The new great apes loop will feature a new entry way, bonobo building, gorilla enclosure and lemur exhibit. Every concrete wall is being sculpted to resemble rock; every concrete beam is being sculpted to resemble wood branches stemming from the central tree. The bonobo building will feature a “bio-floor” that has never been implemented in a Florida zoo, and the central trees structure is one of a kind.

    The biggest reason to change the exhibit, Richart said, is to better the environment for the wellness of the animals.

    “With the trails, we can get out as many animal groups as possible, and with the bonobo enclosure having a canopy, they can be out at night,” Richart said, grinning. “They can see the stars. They’ve never been able to see the stars before.”

    The construction of the project sees its own unique challenges, as cleaning systems must be installed and structures built strong enough to contain gorillas.

    Rock climbers from the Edge Rock Gym in Jacksonville have visited the African Forest twice to test if gorillas would be able to scale the walls to escape the enclosure. The climbers have managed to get out both times, which means the rocky walls need to be adjusted so the gorillas can’t find handholds to climb out.

    Some pieces of the exhibit, such as the trail structures and netting, are being constructed in Ohio. As long as those pieces arrive on time, the project should finish on time, said zoo director Tony Vecchio.

    “Some of these key pieces are out of our hands,” Vecchio said, “but we should be open for Labor Day weekend.”


Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software