Sustainability Discovery Center provides educational programs

David Blasko is passionate about saving the planet and caring for the creatures of the earth. He is also the director of the department of animal care for The Mirage and helped to establish Sustainability Discovery Center at Siegfried & Roy’s Secret Garden.

The purpose of the center is to educate visitors and locals on the importance of taking care of the environment.

“The one thing that I have failed to do for perhaps the first two-thirds of my career is to give people action items where they can make a difference. We have instilled passion but failed to provide a path,” said Blasko, speaking about his 45-year career in caring for animals and educating people about the role that animals play in the environment. The last nearly 10 years of his career have been spent at the Mirage where he oversees the health and safety of the resort’s dolphins and white tigers.

It was Blasko’s passion for saving the environment that started him thinking about the development of a Sustainability Discovery Center.

“I thought that it was important to develop messaging that would give people action items so that they can go out and do things that would have a positive impact on the environment and help these animals.”

It took about 18 months and a large team of individuals with varying skills to bring Blasko’s vision to reality. “You have to understand that it is a very strange, twisting path from my brain to where something actually happens,” Blasko said with a laugh when asked how the idea for the Sustainability Discovery Center came to be.

The theme that was developed is based on water because of the important role that it plays in the lives of animals and humans, no matter where they live. As mammals, dolphins are very sensitive to changes in the ocean and that ties into the Dolphin Habitat at The Mirage.

The MGM Corp. is very invested in sustainability. Each of the properties along the Strip and around the world goes to great lengths to conserve water, energy and to recycle waste.

In Las Vegas, Republic Services is a key partner in helping the MGM properties recycle as much material as possible. As a result of the MGM and Republic partnership, MGM Resorts recycles 28 million glass bottles each year. In 2015, The Mirage alone reached a 45 percentile in recycling, equaling over 4,000 tons of material that did not go to the landfill.

“We are always looking for ways to educate the community about how recycling helps the environment,” said Tracy Skenandore, area director of public relations and field communications for Republic Services Mountain Area.

Republic services recently constructed its $35 million, 110,000-square-foot recycling center with the capacity to process 3 million pounds of paper, glass and metal.

“Now that we have opened our new recycling facility, we are expanding our community outreach even more to encourage greater participation in the recycling program,” Skenandore said.

The Dolphin Habitat and the Sigfried & Roy Secret Garden are research and education facilities that offer tours to over 6,000 school children each year, teaching them about the ocean, the marine animals and the environment in general.

“We saw the Sustainability Discovery Center as a great opportunity to team with MGM in our effort to promote responsible waste management and recycling alongside MGM’s effort to promote their worldwide commitment to protecting the global environment,” Skenandore said.

Both the MGM and Republic Services understand that by teaching children the values of sustainability at an early age, they will continue those habits into adulthood. In fact, the children may be able to teach their parents the value of recycling, which in turn will help the Las Vegas community as a whole.

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