Animal Tales

A Use For Poop

Poop Tuck

The Grounds Department uses a giant vacuum to suck up the waste from underground pits.

The Zoological Society and the Zoo are firm supporters of recycling and reusing. That doesn’t just mean bottles, cans and paper – it means animal poop too. The animal waste from herbivores is turned into compost by a local company, Blue Ribbon Organics.

Poop Tuck

Zoo employees drive the waste to Blue Ribbon Organics almost every day.

Almost every day at the Zoo, the Grounds Department goes around collecting animal waste. Head of grounds, Dave Engelmann, explains the process. “The keepers will go out and shovel it up in a wheelbarrow or bucket or whatever they have. They wheel it over to the pits that are next to a lot of the buildings. Then we will come around and suck it up with our truck.” Once the trucks are full, they drive to the farm in Caledonia to drop off the waste, equaling about 11 tons per week.

As soon as the waste arrives, Blue Ribbon Organics adds in yard and local food waste. From there it goes into a mixing process controlled for temperature and moisture. In about six to eight months the compost is ready for sale. The primary use is for lawns and landscaping.

The partnership works out for both organizations. “The waste gets put to good use instead of rotting in a landfill. It’s a valuable, clean resource used for green applications,” says James Jutrzonka, owner of Blue Ribbon Organics. In one year, more than 550 tons of waste is turned into nutrient-rich, organic soil.

This article appeared in the September/October 2019 issue of Wild Things