Friday, April 29, 2011


Buffalo, N.Y.The Buffalo Zoo, in conjunction with Polar Bears International (PBI), has awarded its first annual “Paw of Approval” Award to Nichols School. On April 27, Buffalo Zoo President and CEO, Dr. Donna M. Fernandes, and Polar Bears International (PBI) President and CEO, Robert W. Buchanan presented the Paw of Approval Award to Head of School, Rick Bryan, who accepted the Award on behalf of Nichols during a presentation that also included one of the School’s fifth-grade classes.

PBI launched the Paw of Approval Award program in 2010. This honor recognizes businesses and organizations that make a conscious effort to reduce their carbon footprint by introducing initiatives to conserve energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. This year, PBI expanded the program by reaching out to its Arctic Ambassador Centers, like the Buffalo Zoo, to acknowledge local organizations who are putting conservation measures at the forefront of their plans.

Nichols School was selected as the recipient of the Award for taking great strides in reducing its carbon footprint through the Big Green Initiative, a wide-ranging approach to campus sustainability, focusing on campus energy, materials, land and water use. Projects resulting from this initiative include conserving resources, composting food scraps, natural landscaping and incorporating sustainability education into its curriculum. The initiative promotes environmental literacy and sustainability education by involving all aspects of the School community.

Nichols also opened the Class of 1963 Center for Mathematics and Science in January 2010. The 24,000 square-foot facility boasts a sustainable design and numerous eco-friendly features. Among these are: a green roof, tinted window glass, south facing hallways, energy efficient lighting, concrete floors, reused desks and tables, a rain garden, energy saving sinks and toilets, hand dryers and sensor lighting.

The Award given to Nichols consists of a framed, limited-edition polar bear photograph by Daniel J. Cox of Natural Exposures.

“The PBI Paw of Approval Award recognizes environmental leadership within our community,” said Fernandes. “We’re very proud to announce Nichols School as our first recipient.”

“We are honored to be recognized for our environmental sustainability efforts with the Big Green Initiative,” said Bryan. “We weave this consciousness into daily life and curriculum at Nichols – from our Upper School students who study environmental science and lead projects such as composting – to our fifth-grade students who visit the Zoo annually and work on projects applying what they experienced during that trip.”

The Buffalo Zoo was also a recipient of an award during the presentation. Buchanan presented the Zoo with PBI’s inaugural Champion of Polar Bear Award in recognition of the Zoo’s excellence in polar bear conservation.

“The Buffalo Zoo’s community outreach has been invaluable in informing, empowering and motivating the public to take action to reduce their carbon footprint,” Buchanan said.

Buchanan said that sea-ice losses in the Arctic threaten polar bear survival. Polar bears rely on the sea ice to hunt, breed, and, in some cases, to den. According to PBI’s Senior Scientist Steven C. Amstrup, however, it’s not too late save polar bears and their sea-ice habitat by significantly reducing CO2.

“The research shows that hope remains,” Buchanan said, “but it also shows that we must act quickly. Zoos like the Buffalo Zoo can play an important role in informing and inspiring the public. That’s why we’re pleased and proud to recognize the Buffalo Zoo’s achievements.”

The Buffalo Zoo is part of PBI’s network of Arctic Ambassador Center Zoos. These centers focus on animal well-being and enrichment, take a leadership role in stewardship and carbon reduction efforts in their communities, and participate in PBI polar bear research efforts. They also take part in PBI outreach programs including:

· Leadership Camps on the tundra for teens, zookeepers, and zoo educators that focus on polar bears and a warming Arctic

· Tundra Connections broadcasts, which link scientists and educators in the field during the polar bear migration with students in remote classrooms

“We have been very proud to partner with PBI on a number of projects, including most recently ‘Bundle Up For Polar Bears’ in the public schools and ‘The Bear Minimums’ for area families,” Fernandes said. “Our relationship with PBI has enabled us to have even more resources to help us spread the message of polar bear conservation.”

During his stay in Buffalo, Buchanan also met with Fernandes, the Zoo’s Board of Directors and other Zoo staff members, which include alumni from these programs.

“Our ongoing relationship with the Buffalo Zoo is important to us—and to the polar bears,” Buchanan said. “Zoos like the Buffalo Zoo have the ability to reach hundreds of thousands of people with their conservation message.”

About Nichols School

Nichols School is an independent, coeducational, college preparatory day school serving grades 5 through 12. Located in Buffalo, N.Y., Nichols is non-denominational, with 558 students from across Western New York and Southern Ontario, as well as several international students. The dedicated faculty is focused on preparing students to thrive in the global community of the 21st century. Students develop strong work ethic, integrity and responsibility in their academic, social and personal lives. Founded in 1892, Nichols is accredited by the New York State Association of Independent Schools. Visit

About the Buffalo Zoo

Founded in 1875, the Buffalo Zoo is the third oldest zoo in the United States. Each year, the Buffalo Zoo welcomes more than 400,000 visitors and is the most visited cultural attraction in Western New York. Located on 23.5 acres of Olmsted's beautiful Delaware Park, the Buffalo Zoo houses approximately 1,200 endangered and domestic animals and offers visitors a variety of events and educational programs year-round. The Buffalo Zoo’s philosophy is to exhibit animals and plants in naturalistic settings that represent their native habitats. The Zoo is dedicated to providing visitors with a better understanding of nature, including how animals relate to each other, their environment and to humankind. For more information, visit

About Polar Bears International

Polar Bears International is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the worldwide conservation of the polar bear and its habitat through research, stewardship, and education. Visit their web site to learn more about their programs at

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