Most of the news releases that clog my email box are blah-blah-blah.
The one from Woodland Park Zoo was everything butt.
The subject line said “Fall Fecal Fest kicks off” and what followed were about 500 words glorifying dung.
What’s up with that?
Exactly what it says.
The zoo produces great manure and they’re willing to share it. Twice a year, citizens get a chance for some of the coveted Zoo Doo. It is so prized people have to enter a lottery. Only about 1 in 4 are lucky enough to take home this gardening gold.
The grand poobah is the zoo’s compost/recycling coordinator Dan Corum, a man of many names.
“Also known as Dr. Doo,” he said. “The Minister of Microbes, the Prince of Poo, the GM of BM, the Worm Whisperer, the Number 1 of Number 2 and, my favorite, the Curator of Endangered Feces.”
Corum, 53, has a master’s degree in rhetoric. He fits the part of a guy you’d expect to see in coveralls and a pitchfork atop a giant mountain of poop.
The Seattle zoo has been in the doo biz since 1985.
“We were doing it before we knew it was even green,” Corum said.
Initially they gave it away, then started charging as demand grew. Even with all those giant animals leaving giant piles, there’s more demand than product.
“The herbivore animal manure is collected and brought to the Zoo Doo yard,” Corum said. “I’ve got a big ol’ pile.”
Also up for grabs is Bedspread, a combination of Zoo Doo, sawdust and wood chips, ideal to cushion perennials, rose beds and shrubs. Bedspread is sold by the truckload to lucky lottery winners.
Zoo Doo, the straight poop, is sold in 5-gallon buckets.
“I don’t make any claims like, ‘Use Zoo Doo and your corn is going to be as tall as Olivia (the giraffe)’ or that your tomatoes will be as big as our Malayan tapir, but some people think it’s the case,” Corum said. “It does give you bragging rights.”
The exotic mix comes from 24 different animals. Corum puts names to the feces.
“It’s from Guadalupe and Waterlilly, those are our hippos,” he said. “Ulan, our Malayan tapir. Olivia, our giraffe. Actually we have several, but Olivia is my favorite, she’s a high producer. Oblio Junior, the zebra. Dennis and Martha, the warthogs. Then in the family farm we have some other animals, like Sparky the goat and Sophia, one of our sheep. Winston and Churchill, our domestic rabbits.”
It’s more than saving poop.
“The purpose of the zoo is that we try to save animals and their habitat,” Corum said. “One of the ways is through resource conservation because that is why we’re losing so much animal habitat, because of human activity and our need for resources. So if we can take something that most people consider a waste product and turn it into a value-added product and also one that is good for the environment that helps water conservation and build soil fertility and something that’s made locally and is fun, then that is a real plus.”
It’s not only the big hairy critters getting in the guano game.
Worm Doo, worm castings made from compost, is sold in pints in zoo shops.
“We take the Zoo Doo and feed it to red wigglers and they eat it and poop it out and it’s full of wonderful worm enzymes that especially seedlings like but any house plant would love,” Corum said. “It’s actually better than Zoo Doo. It’s been pooped twice.”
Deadline is Sept. 14 to enter the doo lottery. There’s also a Fecal Fest in the spring.
Call the POOP hotline for more information.
Or talk to Dr. Doo. He loves to talk sh-t.
“When I go home from work, the wife doesn’t want to hear it,” Corum said. “She says, ‘I’m tried of hearing about your crap.’”
Contact Andrea Brown at 425-339-3443; firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter:@reporterbrown.
For more details, go to www.zoo.org/fecalfest or call the POOP Hotline at 206-625-POOP (7667).
The prized poo:
Enter a lottery to win the chance to purchase Zoo Doo or Bedspread online at zoo.org/fecalfest. Entries will be selected randomly for as many entrants possible, and only selected entries will be contacted. Entries accepted until Sept. 14. Pick-up dates are Sept. 24 to Oct. 15.
The price of doo-ing business:
Zoo Doo: 5 gallons for $5; 10 gallons, $10; 25 gallons. $15; 50 gallons, $20. Limited to 100 gallons per recipient. No truckloads. Pint-sized buckets are available at the ZooStores for $4.95.
Bedspread: Pickup truck, 4-by-8 bed, $60; 4-by-6 bed: $50; 3-by-6 bed: $40. Winners can get up to two full truckloads per person.
Worm Doo: Pints sold at the ZooStores, while supplies last.