Party for the Planet

Party for the Planet

Funded by:

Saturday, April 22nd, 2023

10:30 am – 2:30 pm

Free with Zoo Admission!

It’s a party for the planet, come celebrate with us!

Party for the Planet is the largest combined Earth Day celebration in North America! More than 100 AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums across the country celebrate with activities, giveaways, and special events.

Join us at the Buttonwood Park Zoo on Saturday, April 22nd from 10:30 am to 2:30 pm, when we will offer our visitors the opportunity to explore, learn, and play with us during this free-with-admission event. Over 20 local organizations and businesses are coming together to celebrate green, sustainable living, and teach us how to make choices that will ensure the health of our planet for generations to come. Don’t forget to bring in any unwanted electronics (see details below).
The Zoo will have live music, a raffle, fun games, face painting, an ambulance on site, Earth Day-inspired enrichment demonstrations with our animals, and so much more!

Spring into Action by tracking the monarch butterfly migration north from their overwintering grounds in Mexico to coastal California through the United States and Canada. To capture how monarchs recolonize the breeding areas, report the first sightings of adults, milkweeds, and eggs and larvae to Journey North. Already seen your “first” spring observations? No problem! Please report all observations after these “firsts” to Journey North as well. Tag AZA during registration by adding AZA Party for the Planet in the comment section of your report.

Create Pollinator Spaces in your backyard! AZA is partnering with The National Wildlife Federation to expand native habitats across AZA-accredited facilities and their members. NWF’s Certified Wildlife Habitat® program helps to create and restore habitat and wildlife populations. Turning your yard, balcony container garden, work landscape, or roadside greenspace into a Certified Wildlife Habitat® is fun, easy, and can make a lasting difference for wildlife. Spring into Action with AZA and NWF in creating native habitats near you!

Electronic Waste Drop-off

Members of the community can also bring in any unwanted electronic items to drop off with the amazing team from UMass Dartmouth during Party for the Planet hours, regardless of whether or not they choose to then enter the Zoo. All E-Waste donations will receive one free child admission per party/family into Party for the Planet! Items that can be dropped off include:
  • Batteries (alkaline, car, boat [lead-acid], and rechargeable)
  • Printers
  • Computer or TV monitors ($20 fee for a tube [non-flat] variety)
  • Desktop computers
  • Laptop computers
  • Phones
  • Tablets
  • Scanners
  • Fax machines
  • Cellphones, Blackberries, Palm Pilots
  • Stereo equipment (receivers, turntables, amplifiers, speakers)
  • Household appliances (toasters, toaster ovens, microwaves, blenders, clock radios, mixers, George Forman Grilles, etc)
  • Other consumer electronics
Soiree at the Zoo

Soiree at the Zoo

Have a Wild Night at BPZOO

July 6, 2023

6:00 pm – 9:00 pm

Pictured: Mike Benjamin and the Keepers

Join us on Thursday, July 6th from 6:00 pm until 9:00 pm at the Buttonwood Park Zoo for a magically wild evening of delectable bites, cocktails, encounters with animal residents, our annual “Zoolala” auction, live music and dancing with Mike Benjamin and the Keepers.

Your support of this event helps us provide high-quality educational programs to the community, as well as helps BPZOO maintain a high standard of animal care.

“Take a bid on the wild side” and support the Buttonwood Park Zoological Society as you explore one-of-a-kind experiences, artful creations, unique gifts, and much more.

Your contribution provides critical support for New Bedford’s beloved local zoo. By participating, you protect endangered wildlife, connect our community to nature, and safeguard the sustainability of this treasured organization for generations to come.

Auction will go live at 8:00 am, Thursday, July 6th and close at 9:00 pm during the Soiree. 

Soiree at the Zoo








Thank You to Our 2023 Sponsors

Baby Sloth

Baby Sloth


The Buttonwood Park Zoo is proud to announce the birth of a second Hoffman’s two-toed sloth to 13-year-old female Sandy and 21-year-old male Bernardo. This new baby arrived on August 26, 2022 and is thriving under the care of both Sandy and BPZOO staff.

Zoo guests may have spied the new baby during routine, weekly weight checks that allow animal care staff to monitor growth and eventually determine sex, which can be an extremely tricky process in sloths. The baby will cling tightly to its mother’s fur, high in the trees, until it is old enough to begin exploring the habitat. Young sloths remain near their mothers for around a year. Ziggy, who turned one in June, recently moved into “Brazil”, the habitat directly next to “Peru”, to give the new baby a chance to bond with Sandy.

Bernardo, Sandy, big brother Ziggy and baby are four of 77 Hoffman’s two-toed sloths living among 34 facilities accredited by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA). Buttonwood Park Zoo proudly cooperates with AZA members to manage the zoo population of this species through the Species Survival Plan while enhancing the conservation of this species in the wild.

BPZOO’s resident sloths serve as ambassadors for their species. Thanks to the donations made to our Conservation Kiosk, we proudly support The Sloth Institute in Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica. Funded 100% by donations, The Sloth Institute works to protect and enhance the welfare and conservation of sloths through education, research, rescue, rehab, and release while also conducting vital research, conservation, and education programs to ensure their survival.

BPZOO offers a daily “Keeper Chat”, an opportunity to learn more about these fascinating, slow-moving animals, at 10:00 am in Rainforests, Rivers & Reefs.

About Hoffman’s Two-toed Sloths

Hoffman’s two-toed sloths, Choloepus hoffmanni, are native to Costa Rica in lower Central America, across Panama, northwestern Colombia and Ecuador, and into portions of Peru, Brazil, and Bolivia. Currently listed as a Least Concern species according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, Hoffman’s two-toed sloths do not have any major threats at the global level. However, subpopulations in the northwestern part of its range, especially in Colombia and Central America, are declining due to severe habitat degradation and fragmentation. Wild-caught individuals, especially offspring, are sold as pets to tourists in Colombia. This illegal trade is increasing and represents a cause of concern due to its impact on the wild population. Two-toed sloths may live around 20 years in the wild and over 40 years in a zoological setting. This herbivorous, nocturnal mammal has been exhibited in AZA zoos since 1946.

Red Panda Conservation

Red Panda Conservation


Red pandas are endemic to the Himalayas in Nepal, India, Bhutan, Myanmar (Burma) and southern China. The global red panda population has declined by 50% in 20 years and there may be as few as 2,500 remaining in the wild. Habitat loss is the primary threat, but there is hope for this charismatic species. 

What are we doing to protect this endangered species?

BPZOO is proud to partner with Red Panda Network, the world leader in efforts to protect red pandas and their habitat, as a 2022 Reforestation Sponsor. 

Our most recent donation of $5,000 will support the land purchase, reforestation, and the salary of a local land steward for one hectare of red panda habitat in the Panchthar-Ilam-Taplejung (PIT) corridor in eastern Nepal: a critical location for red panda conservation that has been heavily fragmented and degraded by deforestation.

Red pandas are unique, important and unfortunately endangered. They are a flagship species, meaning their conservation has landscape-level impacts, and like an umbrella, the entire ecoregion — its forests and wildlife — are protected when red pandas are conserved.


In 2019, Buttonwood Park Zoo unveiled its first ever red panda habitat. Since then, thanks to the success of our Conservation Donation Kiosk, we have donated $12,000 to Red Panda Network. Resident red pandas, Jacob and Marie, serve as ambassador for their species and together we will continue to inspire our guests and work to protect wildlife and wild places.


Shown here is land that needs to be restored in Ilam district. The barren land near Jaubari is a major population bottleneck location for red pandas (and other endangered wildlife) in the Panchthar-Ilam-Taplejung (PIT) corridor.

The majority of tree saplings for planting and restoration come from forest conservation nurseries which are being managed by local Community Forest User Groups (CFUGs), livestock herders and local councils. All trees are native species and red panda food species are prioritized.

In addition to restoring critical habitat, our Reforestation Sponsorship provides alternative and sustainable income opportunities for local families.

With our support, the Red Panda Network will be able to establish a bio-bridge that connects the fragmented patches of Community Forest on the Nepal side with the protected areas in India.


Way to go Jacob and Marie! 

Helping Gorillas in the Democratic Republic of Congo

Helping Gorillas in the Democratic Republic of Congo

BPZOO Proudly Supports G.R.A.C.E

During Buttonwood Park Zoo’s 2022 Wildlife Education Series, Gorilla Rehabilitation and Conservation Education Center (GRACE) was one of our featured presenters. It’s mission is to provide excellent care for rescued Grauer’s gorillas while working alongside Congolese communities to promote the conservation of wild gorillas and their habitats. Many of BPZOO’s followers tuned in to learn about the important work this organization is doing for critically endangered Grauer’s gorillas.

GRACE Center is located in a remote area next to the Tayna Nature Reserve, a priority habitat for Grauer’s gorilla conservation since around 300 gorillas live there (8% of remaining wild population) along with other endangered wildlife including chimpanzees and okapi. GRACE is the only conservation NGO located in this region and therefore plays an important role in protecting this stronghold for gorillas.

Shortly after their presentation, GRACE Center was added to BPZOO’s Conservation Donation Kiosk and in September 2022, thanks to the support of our visitors, we made a $1,000 donation to the GRACE Center. 

Our donation will help to build fuel-efficient stoves and create tree nurseries for communities living near GRACE!

How is this helping gorillas? GRACE’s work is rooted in community involvement and initiatives in order to make a real difference for Grauer’s gorillas. Communities living around GRACE are empowered to be stewards of the natural world. Their commitment to protecting wildlife and forests where Grauer’s gorillas live, near Tayna Nature Reserve, will be strengthened because of our donation.


GRACE is on a mission to touch 100,000 hearts in the greater Tayna area. With our support, communities near GRACE will receive specialized training to reduce forest pressures and reverse deforestation. This year, the GRACE Education team is partnering with local associations to lead fuel-efficient stove workshops and create woodlot nurseries. BPZOO’s gift will support the construction of fuel-efficient stoves and provide seedlings for at least 100 women and their families in the nearby community of Kagheri.

GRACE partners with leading AZA-accredited zoos because they are the world’s experts in caring for non-wild gorillas. While BPZOO is not home to gorillas, we are still committed to raising awareness for threatened and endangered species.

Click here to see 10 Ways To Be a Hero For Gorillas Everywhere!

New at the Zoo – Panamanian Golden Frog

New at the Zoo – Panamanian Golden Frog

Critically Endangered Species Front and Center to Zoo Visitors

There are new faces in the Buttonwood Park Zoo admission’s building – the critically endangered Panamanian golden frog. These five females, who arrived from the Nashville Zoo in Tennessee in the winter of 2021, have recently taken up residence in one of the terrarium habitats in the admissions lobby of the Zoo.

Panamanian golden frogs exhibit a unique behavior only seen in a few frog and toad species called ‘semaphore’ – a type of sign language – to signal to each other. They will “wave” their hands or raise and move their feet to defend their territory, try to attract a mate, or even to greet one another.

Panamanian golden frogs are critically endangered and haven’t been seen in the wild since 2009. Scientists believe that an infectious disease called chytridiomycosis, coupled with habitat loss and pressure from the illegal pet trade have caused the drastic decline in populations – an estimated 80% in the last 10 years.

“Conservation is at the heart of what we do here at BPZOO,” says Director of Conservation and Community Engagement, Josh Thompson. “Amphibians are disappearing from our planet at an alarming rate – one that far exceeds the rates of birds and mammals – and this worldwide decline is so dramatic, it is being referred to as the Global Amphibian Crisis. BPZOO is participating in a Species Survival Plan® program, or SSP, and hopes to receive a breeding recommendation in the future so that we can contribute to the assurance population of these toads in human care and avoid the path to extinction.”

The goal of an SSP is to cooperatively manage animal populations to ensure the sustainability of a healthy and genetically diverse population while enhancing the conservation of this species in the wild. This is critical for species such as the Panamanian golden frog. BPZOO is now participating in 35 AZA Species Survival Plan programs.

Zoo admission is not required to view these amphibians, or the four different species of poison dart frogs, who reside in the terrarium next to them.