The Mill Mountain Zoo in Roanoke, Va., recently added a new living exhibit that neither bites, growls, nor requires protective barriers for guests to enjoy — the exhibit is a lush rooftop garden-scape that will double as an educational exhibit to teach visitors about conservation.

As first reported by local ABC affiliate WSET in Roanoake, the Mill Mountain Zoo has introduced the green roof, which was installed by local landscaping firm Ecoscape LLC and spearheaded by the Roanoke Valley Garden Club; Roanoke-based McNeil Roofing, Inc. executed the installation.

According to the report, the zoo said its green roof will help educate guests on ways to practice conservation. The zoo said the greenscape also adds a beautification element to the facility.

"The Mill Mountain Zoo and Roanoke Valley Garden Club share a commitment to conservation and education about our natural world. Together, we created a living green roof display that we hope will inspire the next generation of conservationists and gardeners to care for our precious environment," Vicki Torre, president of Roanoke Valley Garden Club, told WSET. 

"In nearly 100 years, our club has planted, nurtured, and maintained several hundred trees and more than a dozen gardens throughout Roanoke, making our community a more beautiful and healthy place for everyone," Torre added.

Why Go Green?

In the report, the zoo delineated several reasons for commissioning the new green roof installation, including:

  • Clean Air: Less ground-level ozone and less heat mean less smog. Plant leaves also trap dust particles in the air and cool ambient temperatures.
  • Energy Efficiency: Green roofs reduce the heat entering a building, so there is less of a need for heating and cooling, thus reducing energy costs.
  • Reduction of runoff: During heavy rain, runoff can overwhelm stormwater drains, damaging waterways and fish habitats.
  • Cost-effective: Green roofs are protected from UV rays and temperature fluctuations, reducing the cost of maintenance and the need for re-roofing.
  • Serves as a Habitat: If undisturbed, green roofs can be a refuge for many birds to nest and raise their young.

“While Roanoke is growing, it still has that small-town feel, and this project was a lovely, humbling reminder of how people in this community come together for a good cause,” the zoo’s Executive Director, Niki Voudren, told WSET. “The green roof project has been a fun collaboration between the Roanoke Valley Garden Club, McNeil Roofing Inc., Lee and Lainy Wilhelm, and Mike’s Market & Greenhouses; we are grateful to all these philanthropic people who contributed their skills, passions, talent, and friendships to create something beautiful and beneficial for our community zoo.”