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Green is the Theme at Happy Hollow Park and Zoo

By Jake Levin

On July 9, 2008, Happy Hollow Park and Zoo closed its doors.

The attraction located San Jose, Calif. didn't shut down to financial issues or anything of that ilk; rather, the closure was merely a temporary measure to become a "greener" facility. The park's Conservation and Communications Manager, Vanessa Rogier, said that the initiative to go green was part of a plan that could not only be a model for other local entertainment venues in the Bay Area, but rather a nationwide model that could spark wholesale changes for the better when it comes to eco-friendly establishments.

An expansion consisting of four acres, two more amusement rides, 11 more exhibits in the zoo itself, a new Upper Zoo area, an education center and more took nearly 20 months. The Happy Hollow Park and Zoo reopened for business on March 20, 2010, and the accolades soon followed.

"The renovation was built to meet the U.S. Green Building Council's LEED® (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) and was awarded LEED® gold by the U.S. Green Building Council in July 2011," Rogier said. "Happy Hollow Park & Zoo became the first amusement park and zoo in the country to be certified LEED® gold. The additional unique factor is that LEED® certification is not for just one building; Happy Hollow is a campus and includes 10 new buildings as well as grounds. Happy Hollow became a model for zoos and aquariums nationwide."

Seven green growing roofs, 14,000 square feet of open space, radiant flooring, recycled water, porous asphalt, sustainable storm water management, clerestory windows, recycled base rock and recycled glass are just some of the many ways in which Happy Hollow continues to lead the charge in going green. Some 79,682 plants were added to the already lush landscape as well, Rogier said.

Happy Hollow is also renowned for its sleepover programs for patrons of all ages. Family sleepovers, for upcoming events such as Howl-o-ween, are educational in nature. Guests learn about "scary" animals through Halloween-themed activities, games, live animal encounters and night tours; trick-or-treating is on the agenda, obviously, as is a hot breakfast the next morning. Anyone aged 5 and up is eligible to attend with an adult.

As both an amusement park and zoo, Rogier said that Happy Hollow is unique in the manner of memories that can be created there. She lists some of the more popular animals kept at the zoo as Sophia the Jaguar and Danny the Dragon.

"Lots of great family memories were made here and there is a deep love in the community for Happy Hollow," Rogier said. "As a combination amusement park and zoo, we have a variety of experiences to offer our guests: over 150 animals, rides for the entire family, unique play areas, a puppet theater, after hour events, sleepovers, camps and special events throughout the year. [There is] a little something for everyone."

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