The Cincinnati Zoo — the greenest zoo in America — is looking for more ways to get to Net Zero by 2025. And one of those ways involves poop.
According to the zoo, they produce more than 2 million pounds of organic waste (aka animal poo and other compostable material) a year.
“Organic waste accounts for 80% of our total waste,” says Cincinnati Zoo’s vice president of facilities and sustainability, Mark Fisher, in a release. “That is a lot of zoo doo!"
To find a green way to reuse that dung, the zoo has installed an aerobic bio-digester and launched its Facilities Organic Waste Recycling (FLOWR) program to, as they say, turn that poop into "garden gold."
"The digester will convert food waste and poo from elephants, rhinos, zebras and even Fiona, into a beautiful fertilizer that can then be used to breathe new life into our botanical garden, community gardens and your garden,” says Fisher.
The zoo says the resultant fertilizer will be used in their Urban Learning Garden at Rockdale Academy in Avondale (the garden is a collaboration with Cincinnati Children’s, P&G and Reds Community Fund). It will also be available to the public.
Yes, you can soon fertilize your tomatoes with Fiona dung.
Michelle Curley, zoo communications director, tells CityBeat via email that they hope to have the poo available to the public this summer.
"We are sending the product out to be analyzed and doing some other tests before we sell it," she says. "We will start using it at the zoo and in the community as soon as it is ready to sell."
This first bio-digester is part of a larger plan that will help convert the waste in the forthcoming Elephant Trek. The zoo is using this time to figure out the logistics before installing a larger apparatus in 2023.
“Everything about Elephant Trek will be big,” said Fisher. “I’m excited to build an amazing home for elephants and just as excited to be making it the right way, which means taking sustainability into consideration every step of the way."
The Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden is located at 3400 Vine St., Avondale. More info and updates: cincinnatizoo.org.