In addition to our science and conservation work, the Zoological Society of London operates ZSL London Zoo and ZSL Whipsnade Zoo, the oldest and the largest living collections in the United Kingdom.

We believe that zoos provide the perfect venue to raise awareness and take action on the issue of sustainable palm oil, because many of the tropical species in our collections are directly affected in the wild by impacts of the palm oil industry.

In order to minimise these impacts, where we use products containing palm oil, we should check with suppliers to ensure it is certified sustainable.

The critically endangered Sumatran tiger (Panthera tigris sumatrae) at ZSL London Zoo © ZSL

The critically endangered Sumatran tiger (Panthera tigris sumatrae) © ZSL

The endangered Western lowland gorilla (Gorilla gorilla gorilla) © ZSL

The critically endangered Western lowland gorilla (Gorilla gorilla gorilla) © ZSL

What can zoos do?

Many zoos already promote sustainable commodities such as Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified timber and paper, and Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) seafood, so why not consider promoting and sourcing palm oil certified by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO)?

The RSPO certification standards are based on a set of principles and criteria that include the protection of primary forest and areas of high conservation value as well as the rights of local communities, plantation workers, and indigenous peoples. By purchasing certified sustainable palm oil (CSPO) you are supporting these efforts and driving the palm oil industry toward production of 100% certified sustainable palm oil.

RSPO logo

Recently, the Singapore Alliance for Sustainable Palm Oil, led by WWF,  was founded by five members including Wildlife Reserves singapore, which manages Singapore Zoo. The primary goal of this alliance is to get more manufacturers and retailers to use sustainably produced palm oil, and give consumers environmentally-friendly options for the many products which contain palm oil. Other members of the alliance include Unilever, local manufacturer Ayam Brand, Danone and Ikea.

Many governments of countries that consume palm oil and its derivatives are starting to introduce country-level commitments to source CSPO. Having national commitments plays a large role in influencing downstream companies to exert pressure on their suppliers.

EU Government commitments to source sustainable palm oil (by RSPO)

EU Government commitments to source sustainable palm oil (by RSPO)

Communicate on these issues through messaging in catering facilities or in exhibits of animals especially affected by palm oil, such as orangutans and tigers. Visit our sourcing page to learn more about how to engage and improve your zoo’s own palm oil supply chain.

You can also do your part in engaging local businesses, retailers and restaurants to do their bit for sustainable palm oil. Follow our palm oil procurement guide, or contact Chester Zoo for information about sustainable palm oil in restaurants.

ZSL believes that boycotting palm oil is not a practical solution. You can read more about our stance here.

Case studies

Cheyenne Mountain Zoo’s Palm Oil Awareness Campaign focuses on making a difference for wild orangutans by providing a wide range of tools and information to encourage people to make responsible choices. Through sharing their resources with other AZA (Association of Zoos and Aquariums) zoos, they hope to encourage a positive change through communicating their message to a wide audience.

Among their many initiatives, CMZoo launched a sustainable palm oil shopping guide in the form of a smartphone app, including a rating system with user-friendly color coding.

CMZoo Sustainable Palm Oil Mobile App

CMZoo Sustainable Palm Oil Mobile App

Philadelphia Zoo’s UNLESS Campaign is a five-year initiative designed to raise awareness of the connection between palm oil and orangutans and drive the market for sustainable palm oil by sharing consumer feedback with manufacturers related to their commitment to use 100% CSPO by 2015.

Through the UNLESS Campaign, the Zoo is mobilising on-site and online audiences to build a community of well-informed orangutan advocates and inspire them to action through the use of social media, special events, and facilitated contact with key stakeholders, including field researchers and corporate leaders.

The Leaves of Gratitude station ©Philadelphia Zoo

The Leaves of Gratitude station ©Philadelphia Zoo


Last updated: 19/08/2016