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SOS Rhino : In the News : Archived News : March 2000 : Zoo uses elephant, rhino waste as selling point
 

Zoo uses elephant, rhino waste as selling point

 
By CHRIS POYNTER
The Courier-Journal (Louisville, KY.)
March 11, 2000

- Don't poo-poo the Louisville Zoo's latest fund-raiser: It's selling composted elephant and rhinoceros dung.

This weekend - for a mere $ 5 - folks can tote home a 10pound bag of ''ZooPoopyDoo: The Ultimate Compost.'' For $ 25, gardeners can get a scoop from a small bulldozer. Bring your own truck.

''Part of our mission is to be environmentally sensitive, and this is wonderful way of keeping refuse out of the landfill,'' said zoo President Bill Foster.

He acknowledges that peddling packaged poop sounds a bit strange. But, he said, the mixture is perfect for gardens. He uses it himself.

''For the person who has everything, this is a special gift,'' Foster said, laughing.

The zoo has been composting dung for about four years and selling it to select clients, and it has been selling small packages of dung as a novelty in its gift shop for a few years.

But this weekend is the first time it will be sold in bulk to the general public.

''We now are producing enough'' for such sales, Foster said, adding that there will be two or three more sales. ''We feel there is going to be enough demand.''

Before it did composting, the zoo was spending $ 20,000 annually to remove the dung and dump it in a landfill, Foster said. But following the lead of zoos across the country, it began collecting animal waste and composting it by mixing in leaves and other materials. And now, it's turning a profit - to the tune of $ 27,000 last year.

Foster said waste from elephants and rhinos is rich in nutrients because the animals consume large amounts of food but have very poor digestive systems. As a result, just 20 to 25 percent of the food is completely broken down.

''So a lot of nutrients pass through,'' Foster said. ''In the wild, in nature, it is used by dung beetles and small birds.''

Bruce Peppers, an assistant manager at Frank Otte Nursery and Garden Centers, laughed at the name ''ZooPoopyDoo.'' But, he said, it's no different from other forms of compost, which use cow manure and occasionally chicken waste.

''The best thing for people to do is incorporate it with their soil beds,'' he said. ''I wouldn't put it directly on the lawn.''

OK, HERE'S THE POOP ''ZooPoopyDoo'' will be sold from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. today and from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. tomorrow in the parking lot of the zoo, 1100 Trevilian Way.

The Louisville Zoo is selling composted dung from elephants and rhinoceroses by the bag or in bulk.

GRAPHIC: BY PAM SPAULDING, THE C-J LANGUAGE: English LOAD-DATE: March 14, 2000

 

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