Earth Day is next week, April 22, which means we have our eye out for local events that aim to raise awareness for the Earth Day movement, a movement that year after year gives voice to important but often overlooked environmental issues. One of the first events on our calendar is the annual celebration of Earth Day at the Salisbury Zoo! Each year, the Salisbury Zoo hosts a FREE event for the public in an effort to help promote environmental awareness, as well as to educate on how to be good stewards to the earth. The Salisbury Zoo does a fantastic job of educating the public all year long, but the Earth Day Celebration is one of their largest initiatives, bringing in roughly 2,000 participants to the event each year to join in the fun while learning about our local ecosystem. What to expect? Let’s take a look:

When: Saturday, April 16, 10am until 4pm

Where: Salisbury Zoo, 755 South Park Drive, Salisbury, MD – 410-548-3188

What: The annual event really begins in the early morning hours with the Zoo Stampede, a 5K race sponsored by Vernon Powell Shoes that takes runners through the Zoo and City Park. Now in its 15th year, the Zoo Stampede is one of the largest 5Ks in Salisbury!

After the Zoo Stampede, the Earth Day Celebrations begin, with activities, vendors, entertainment, food and more lasting throughout the afternoon. Again, this is a FREE event that is designed to provide educational fun for all ages. “It’s purely a give back, it’s not a profit maker, which is really cool that we can do that,” said Zoo Education Curator Leonora Dillon. Over 20 earth friendly organizations will participate in the event, Dillon added, saying “we usually have a wide variety of environmental educators that attend to promote what their organizations can do as well as promote ways that the community can pitch in.” The Lower Shore Herb Society, Coast Kids, Nanticoke Watershed Alliance, NASA, the Delmarva Discovery Center, and the Wicomico County Humane Society are just a few of the earth friendly organizations you can expect to see this Saturday. “They will all have some sort of interactive activity,” continued Dillon, noting the ‘walk-in whale’ that the National Aquarium typically sets up (wind permitting of course). The massive, inflatable whale allows people to walk inside to get an idea of what the inside of a whale looks like. “Our Education Department will be doing a variety of recycled, repurposed crafts,” added Dillon. Crafting wiggling snakes out of pop-tops, fashioning tote bags out of old t-shirts, and decorating mugs are just a few of the activities kids can enjoy.

Live entertainment will also be included in the event, with Rachel & Jackson (from AMP Studio) set to hit the Zoo Stage, along with the Ted Nichols Drum Circle. Attendees can also bring their old electronics with them, as the City of Salisbury Recycling crew will be on the scene with the E-Cycle truck. Delmarva Power will be giving out redbud trees while supplies last and the Zoo will be selling ‘Bee the Change’ fundraiser t-shirts for $10.

In addition to celebrating Earth Day, the Zoo is unveiling two exciting new additions on Saturday: their free Wi-Fi and the new Pollinator Exhibit. The Pollinator Exhibit, which is a honey bee observation hive, will be located in the Zoo’s wolf building. The exhibit will be unveiled at 1pm along with a presentation on the importance of pollinators and how we can protect them. Certified Master Beekeeper Dean Burroughs will kick off the bee exhibit; Burroughs will also be teaching a beekeeping class on April 30th. His honey is also available in the gift shop at the Zoo!

The Zoo’s Wi-Fi will be up and running on Saturday, allowing guests free access to the internet while they are visiting the zoo. Marketing and Development Director Mary Seemann explained that their hope is that visitors will utilize the Zoo as a place to do homework, catch up on work, check email, or simply browse the internet while enjoying the beauty of the Zoo. Also on the horizon is a Zoo App! “One of our good friends of the Zoo created an app for us,” explained Seemann, adding that the free app will provide users with an audio tour of the Zoo, complete with facts and stories about each exhibit.

Spring is a busy, busy time at the Zoo, as the animals enjoy spending more and more time outside in the mild weather. School trips are at their peak this time of year, as is the event schedule. Bunk with the Beasts, 4th Fridays, and Go Wild About Reading are all on the horizon, for details, visit the Zoo’s website OR stay tuned for our coverage of upcoming events at the Salisbury Zoo!