Miami Zoo Finds a Use for Mounds of Animal Waste

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We’ve covered several ways to turn trash into art, but we have to admit this is a new one for us. Miami Metrozoo is taking its excessive amounts of animal waste and recycling it for fertilizer, which will be used to decorate the zoo ground.

It makes sense if you think about it. Metrozoo reports that it accumulates 1,400 pounds of elephant droppings, 750 pounds of rhinoceros waste and 500 pounds of giraffe dung in a single day! That totals to about 550 tons of animal manure annually.


The Asian elephant Dollop creates about 500 pounds of waste a day! Photo:

So, Metrozoo’s zookeepers put their heads together and started a composting program in order to handle its waste on site, reducing its overall costs and its carbon footprint.

What’s even more interesting, Tom Trump, Metrozoo’s horticulture supervisor tells Miami Herald that since launching last year’s project to reduce and recycle whatever possible, the zoo has saved more than $25,000 – $10,000 to $15,000 in fertilizer and $10,000 in topsoil.

Once the waste from the herbivores of the zoo is collected, it will be delivered to the trash area of the zoo, but instead of going to a landfill (like in the past), it will be recycled into a composting system, and may be sold as fertilizer to South Florida farms in the future.

“It just made sense,” says Trump. “Whatever we can recycle and reuse on grounds benefits our plant materials and also reduces our budget and expenditures for waste disposal.”

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  1. This news was bewildering and sad. I was truly astonished to learn that any zoo ever trucked poop to a landfill. Why composting wouldn’t be designed into the facility in the first place is a mystery. Thank goodness the Miami Zoo figured out this would save them money and bother. Let’s hope the compost gospel reaches other zoos and all embrace it. Even if a zoo doesn’t compost on-site, there must be entrepreneurs who would truck poop away for free–or even pay to truck it for use in their own sustainable gardening businesses.

  2. Of course this is a great idea, but I just can’t get into “poop stories”.

    Allen Nyhuis, Coauthor: America’s Best Zoos

  3. With it being collected on site wouldnt that create a rodent or pest problem? Disease also would seem to be a factor. Otherwise it sounds like a good plan.

  4. For zoos that DON’T have a composting program (and I agree with cityslipper that is a mystery), local gardeners can benefit. My dad used to get a truckload of elephant poo from his local zoo a couple of times a year.

    Funny thing was, the elephant’s name was Bunny & when he told people those giant – um – clods were “Bunny poo,” he always got the wierdest looks. Grew amazing veggies, though!

  5. I agree with Cityslipper. They should have done this long ago.
    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

  6. Pingback: Happy Friday :: Something Positive in Miami « Welcome to The Green Scene!

  7. This Pooh sounds like a good idea for zoos and for the landscape end of it, but shouldn’t we be careful
    with using animal pooh for vegetable gardens???

    Also, Where can I find the facts on the ink they use these days in the different paper products. I know nothing shiney should be used but what about the soft color pictures they are putting in the newspapers
    now? Ink used on prints from the computer? Color print on paper towels? etc. Thanks. N

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