Solar-Powered Speedwell Foundation Conservation Carousel Is Open at the National Zoo

The Speedwell Foundation Conservation Carousel—one of the only solar-powered carousels in the world—is now open at the Smithsonian's National Zoo. The carousel, made possible by the Speedwell Foundation, features hand-carved and hand-painted animals and has a net-zero impact on the Zoo's energy consumption. One hundred and sixty-two solar panels donated and installed by Pepco Energy Services power the Conservation Carousel. Any excess energy is diverted back to the Zoo's electrical grid.

Tickets for the Conservation Carousel are $3. It is open during regular Zoo hours and during ZooLights—powered by Pepco—the annual holiday-lights festival hosted by Friends of the National Zoo. All proceeds from the Speedwell Foundation Conservation Carousel support animal care and conservation science initiatives at the Smithsonian's National Zoo.

First and foremost, the carousel is a great attraction for the whole family, said Dennis Kelly, director of the Smithsonian's National Zoo. But I'm hoping that the riders will be inspired by the conservation messages. Some of the gorgeous animals reflect the great conservation success stories of our time while others represent animals we are racing to save.

The Conservation Carousel features 58 hand-carved and painted animals for visitors to ride. Many represent endangered species that Zoo scientists and animal care experts have spent years studying, breeding or working to reintroduce to the wild. The animals spin past scenery panels depicting scenes from forest, grassland, savannah and aquatic habitats. Decorative panels, each featuring a different migratory bird species, adorn the top of the carousel. The detailed artwork celebrates animals living at the Zoo, the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute and in the mid-Atlantic region.

An interactive digital dashboard, also donated by Pepco Energy Services, allows guests to see how the carousel generates and uses solar energy in real time. A touch-screen display translates the energy the Conservation Carousel saves into more familiar terms, such as the number of trees saved, the hours of video games that could be played or the cups of coffee that could be brewed with the same amount of energy. Using the dashboard, visitors will also be able to see how much energy the carousel has saved since its debut.

For more information about the Speedwell Foundation Conservation Carousel visit the National Zoo's website. Follow the National Zoo on Facebook and Twitter for the latest updates about exhibits, amenities and animal news.

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