In a perfect zoo there is Zoo Doo.
Some zoos in the U.S. offer an exotic way to fertilize their gardens through a unique method of recycling waste from zoo animals.
At the Louisville Zoo in Kentucky where the mix is called Zoo Poopy Doo, the product consists of hoof stock manure from animals including elephants, rhinos, camels and giraffes. This is blended with hay, straw and wood shavings.
The product was first introduced at the Louisville Zoo by Assistant Director Mark Zoeller. Experts at the zoo say it gets its appeal by improving the aeration of the soil and increasing root penetration and water retention, which together reduces crusting of the soil surface.
Last April the Zoo celebrated its novel recycling technique in the form of Zoo Poopy Doo by holding festival sale Saturdays honoring the exotic fertilizer. The sale Saturdays that extended into May were held in the parking lot of the zoo where interested persons could support the zoo and recycling for $30 a scoop.
At the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle where they have been offering the product since the early 1990’s their reference to endangered feces is simply Zoo Doo.
This recycling technique here is a big deal. On one of the web pages on the Woodland Park Zoo site a spread dedicated to Zoo Doo describes the creation process in detail beginning with the collecting of manure and straw bedding from animal enclosures which is then combined with other natural recyclable materials from around the zoo.
With the combination of zoo waste into long rows, it becomes extremely hot. This is an important step in the process as the elevated temperatures enable the termination of most weed seeds and pathogens.
Similar to frying vegetables, the product is turned and watered for three months until the Zoo Doo product becomes its dry crumbly self, ready to aid in the fertility and physical condition of buyers’ gardens.
As with the spring fecal festival offered at the Louisville Zoo enthusiasts at the Woodland Park Zoo have the same idea. Every spring and fall bulk amounts of Zoo Doo can be purchased, which is an improvement on the year-round availability of the 2 gallon, or 1 pint amounts offered in the zoo’s store for $12.95 and $4.95 respectively.
Not every zoo offers this exotic fertilizer fashion. At the Sacramento Zoo representatives say that the zoo is too small a facility to be able to even consider this alternative means of waste disposal.
In California’s larger San Diego Zoo, zoo doo is also not offered, but paper and frames made from elephant poop are sold in the gift shop for those who are interested in more unconventional ways of recycling.
In addition, an educational based “Poop Show” is offered daily and nightly in the amphitheater at the animal park, which aims to educate individuals about the huge amount of waste produced by animals. Their motto as stated on the calendar online sums it up. “If we can recycle poop, we can recycle anything.”
With the emergence of Zoo Doo, especially in the 1990’s one company has come and gone. The Memphis based Zoo-Doo compost company featured in the New York Times article “Fashionable Fertilizer Solves a Disposal Problem For Zoos,” in May of 1992 aimed to redefine the fertilizer world as well as market some of the humor that is carried along with a name like Zoo-Doo.
The Zoo-Doo company does not exist nowadays, however and in order to find Zoo Doo one has to search at their local zoo. For the time being zoos’ like the San Diego Zoo that offers “Elepoo” T-shirts and books on the subject are contributing to the zoo doo revolution in other ways.