Homestead - South Dade

What do you do with a daily ton of doo-doo? Miami zoo finds a market

Ron Magill holds elephant dung in front of buckets of Zoo Doo, compost made from manure that is now being sold to the public.
Ron Magill holds elephant dung in front of buckets of Zoo Doo, compost made from manure that is now being sold to the public. Photo provided to the Miami Herald

Dalip, a 10,000-pound Asian bull elephant, is the main supplier for Zoo Miami's newest endeavor — turning poop into compost and selling it as Zoo Doo.

In any given day, the “fine-tuned pooping machine” can produce more than 300 pounds of manure, Zoo Miami spokesman Ron Magill said.

And Dalip is not alone. Between the zoo's six elephants, five rhinoceroses and three bantengs, the zoo collects more than 2,000 pounds of dung per day. That waste is put into an Enviro-Drum where it is combined with green waste, heated for 10 days and turned into what Magill calls “pixie dust.”

“This is the perfect example of the circle of life,” Magill said. “Endangered species feces creates the most exotic compost and it works wonders on the soil.”

And now the compost — which has been used for months at the zoo and has done “wonderful things for the soil,” Magill said — is being sold in collectible 5-pound buckets for $12.95.

Magill, who was full of poop jokes, said the new endeavor feeds money right back into the zoo and reduces the amount of waste going into the landfill.

It is not unheard of to use either human or animal waste as fertilizer. According to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, if waste is properly treated it can be used as fertilizer and provides “nutrients that are needed by plants.”

Zoos across the country including Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle and the Cincinnati Zoo also have compost programs.

Magill said for those who are concerned about the smell — after all it is made from poop — there isn’t anything to worry about.

“Poop stinks, but this doesn’t,” he said. “It smells clean.”

Zoo Doo can be purchased at Zoo Miami, 12400 SW 152nd St., or online at www.zoomiami.org/ZooDoo.

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