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Denver Zoo named greenest zoo in the country (plus pictures of effing adorable baby animals)

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The Denver Zoo is the greenest zoo in the country, according to the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, which awarded the zoo its first-ever (and aptly titled) Green Award. So what makes the Denver Zoo so environmentally friendly? One of the reasons has to do with elephant poop. Mounds and mounds of elephant poop -- which the zoo plans to turn into electricity and heat through a fancy scientific process called gasification.

The gasification plant will open in conjunction with Asian Tropics, the zoo's new elephant, rhino and tapir exhibit -- and the subject of the 2009 Westword feature "Caution: A Herd of Bull Elephants Is Coming to the Denver Zoo."

But it's not the zoo's first green endeavor (though it may be the smelliest). In bestowing the award, the AZA also took note of the zoo's many water conservation projects, its efforts to feed its animals local produce, its development of a software program that rates different products' and suppliers' environmental impact, and its commitment to provide every zoo employee with an RTD Eco Pass, which allows them to ride buses and light rail for free.

The zoo's CEO, Craig Piper, accepted the award at the AZA's annual conference. "We are thrilled to receive this honor. It is truly a testament of our employees' long-term commitment to leadership in sustainable business practices," he said in a press release.

Tiffany Barnhart, zoo spokeswoman, adds that the AZA lauded the Denver Zoo's efforts to continuously measure its progress. "We're proud of our accomplishments so far, but we will continue to track our energy use and water use and use metrics and benchmarking to make sure we're always improving in our sustainable operations," she says.

But enough about kudos and accolades. The real reason you're reading this blog post is because you want to look at photos of effing adorable baby animals, right? Right? Don't worry; we've got you covered. Flip the page and prepare to have your mind blown.

More from our News archives: "Denver Zoo's sheep baby daddys are working overtime: Five new lambs!"

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