MADISON, Wis. -

The Henry Vilas Zoo will be celebrating Earth Day on Saturday with fun, free, family-friendly events geared toward educating everyone about the importance of biodiversity, according to a release.

Children will have the opportunity to learn about biodiversity with a free MG&E Earth Day Fun Book, organizers said. The book includes information on the saolas, a species similar to an antelope. The saolas was only recently discovered, and are critically endangered due to poaching.

Children will also be able to protect biodiversity in their own backyard by picking up a free tree seedling to plant at home, courtesy of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

“The Henry Vilas Zoo is a leader in environmental education and conservation,” Dane County Executive Joe Parisi said in the release. “We hope visitors will join the zoo this Saturday and learn how they can help in their own way through free, family-friendly Earth Day events.”

The zoo will also sell art to highlight the threat that poaching poses to animals and their habitats, according to the release. “Catching Hope” is a poaching snare recovery project that repurposes snares into hand-crafted art. The snares have been collected from the Annamite Mountains of Laos and Vietnam to protect the wildlife in the region.

Earth Day events, activities at zoo:

  • Distribution of 1,250 saplings – courtesy of Wisconsin DNR, available while supplies last
  • Emerald Ash Borer beetle information – courtesy of the Wisconsin DNR
  • Kids' Tree Climb – courtesy of the Dane County Regional Arborist Group
  • Solar Energy Trailer courtesy of MG&E
  • Earth Day Fun Books – courtesy of MG&E, available while supplies last
  • Face Painting - proceeds will support wild saola conservation
  • Re-purposed poaching snare for sale
  • Free Kids’ Crafts
  • Education Animals
  • Henry the Lion Zoo Mascot

The event is scheduled from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, organizers said. The zoo will stay open after the event. The animal buildings will stay open until 4 p.m. and zoo grounds will stay open until 5 p.m.