Zoos are turning the droppings of animals into compost.
Zoos are turning animals’ droppings into compost.
FRESNO Chaffee Zoo’s waste is no longer going to waste. Zoo officials have embarked on a new project to cart dung from elephants and other vegetableeating animals to a corner of the zoo’s service yard. The plan is to water, turn and age the scat for several weeks until it turns into compost and can be used for landscaping.
In addition to saving on hauling and composting costs, Chaffee Zoo in Fresno, California, might start marketing its end product later this year, officials said.
“With all the talk we do about the environment, we want to practice what we preach,” said Steve Feldman, spokesman for the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. “More and more zoos are starting to recognise and use this valuable resource.”
Tucson’s Reid Park Zoo donates some of its composted waste to a farm operated by a community food bank, where produce is grown and then sold at local farmers markets, said Jed Dodds, education co-ordinator for the Tucson Zoo.
At the zoo in Columbia, South Carolina, manure entrepreneurs are selling “comPOOst;” in Seattle’s Woodland Park Zoo, it’s known as “Zoo Doo.”
John Davis, curator of mammals and manager of the comPOOst operation in Columbia’s Riverbanks Zoo, said the soil additive is helping keep the landscaping lush. And purchasers also say good things.
“We have return customers who say they are pleased with how it’s working,” Davis said. “But, I can’t say it’s that much better than (other) compost.”
The money earned through sales pays for conservation programs that Riverbanks Zoo participates in around the world, Davis said.
Woodland Park Zoo sells its Zoo Doo to the public by the truckload or in containers. There are 28 different types of animals that contribute to the zoo’s programme, said Dan Corum, the zoo’s self-proclaimed curator of “endangered faeces.”
Corum said the zoo earns about US$15,000 (RM46,500) from Zoo Doo sales annually and also saves about US$60,000 (RM186,000) by not having to send millions of tonnes of waste to the landfill each year.
One of the nation’s longest-running composting projects is at the North Carolina Zoo in Asheboro. Over 13 years, the zoo has saved US$1.5mil (RM4.65mil) in landfill and landscaping costs, said Gin Wall, curator of horticulture.
“We use every bit that we can get,” Wall said. “It has more than paid for itself.”
Chaffee Zoo employees on doo-doo duty are mixing elephant dung with leftover straw, landscape clippings and fruit and vegetables that can’t be used as feed. Eventually, they’ll also use dropping from the zoo’s zebras, giraffes and addax to create the driving range of 160km under daily usage. It also has more space, featuring four seats and a decent-sized luggage compartment.
A second fleet of electric vehicles based on the ActiveE concept will be released for customer testing next year in order to get more feedback on the requirements of a megacity vehicle.
But when it comes down to it, will the megacity vehicle be a car we want to drive around all the time? Can an electric car really match the standards and power of today’s combustion engine vehicles?
Well, judging by the Mini E which I drove in Munich, one thing is for sure – the electric car is no pushover. It could reach almost the same speeds as normal cars, and it moved silently, with almost no engine noise beyond a faint humming sound. And as mentioned before, the entire torque of the electric motor is available from a standing start, making it extremely agile and fun to drive.
I may not be a motoring expert but if the megacity vehicle is going to be anything as fun to drive as the Mini E, then it is going to be one heck of a car. Just don’t underestimate its powerful torque ... In the future, all our cars may have charging slots like this one on the Mini E for us to plug in at night, instead of fuel tanks.
Cash cow: Zookeeper Sarah Robinson emptying a shovel full of zebra dung. Fresno’s Chaffee Zoo has begun a composting programme using the gathered waste material of many of its animals.
Zookeeper Kit Perry raking addax pellets as an addax watches.