Zoo Doo, a compost made from non-primate herbivores, is sold to customers of the Woodland Park Zoo through a lottery system. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

Zoo Doo, a compost made from non-primate herbivores, is sold to customers of the Woodland Park Zoo through a lottery system. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

Dung Dynasty: Zoo celebrates more than 30 years of prized poo

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.

Questions?

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; abrown@heraldnet.com. Twitter:@reporterbrown.

Learn more

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.

Talk to us

> Give us your news tips.

> Send us a letter to the editor.

> More Herald contact information.

More in Life

Pet detective Jim Branson stops to poke through some fur that Raphael the dog found while searching on Saturday, March 2, 2024, in Everett, Washington. Branson determined the fur in question was likely from a rabbit, and not a missing cat.(Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Lost a pet? Pet detective James Branson and his dogs may be able to help

James Branson, founder of Three Retrievers Lost Pet Rescue, helps people in the Seattle area find their missing pets for $350.

Anthony Brock performs at Artisans PNW during the first day of the Fisherman’s Village Music Fest on Thursday, May 16, 2024 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
At downtown Everett musical festival: ‘Be weird and dance with us’

In its first night, Fisherman’s Village brought together people who “might not normally be in the same room together” — with big acts still to come.

Whidbey Renaissance Faire volunteers pose in their costumes. (Photo by Bree Eaton)
Faire thee well: Renaissance is coming to Whidbey Island

The volunteer-run fair May 25 and 26 will feature dancers, a juggler, ‘Fakespeare,’ various live music shows and lots of food.

From a 17th-century warship to ABBA, Stockholm’s delights span the ages

The city — known for Nobel prizes, “Pippy Longstocking” and a very tall city hall — sits on 14 islands connected by 54 bridges.

A guitarist keeps rhythm during Lovely Color’s set on the opening night of Fisherman’s Village on Thursday, May 18, 2023, at Black Lab in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
No matter what music you’re into, Fisherman’s Village has a hook for you

From folk to psychedelic pop to hip-hop, here’s a quick guide to artists you might want to check out in downtown Everett.

Patterson Hood (left) and Mike Cooley perform with Drive-By Truckers at Tuscaloosa Amphitheater in 2018. (Ben Flanagan / AL.com)
Music, theater and more: What’s happening in Snohomish County

Take in the Fisherman’s Village Music Festival in downtown Everett and get a close-up look at unique aircraft at Paine Field.

On moving day for elderly mom, a moving reminder of what matters in life

Older adults don’t talk much about accomplishments during their working lives. Instead, they talk about the value of family.

Iberia told me to file a chargeback, but now I don’t have a ticket

When Joel Revill’s ticket purchase doesn’t go through, a representative advises him to dispute it on his credit card.

Paeonia Itoh Hybrids "Lolliepop" in the spring garden
Bushy with big blooms, Itohs blend the best of herbaceous, tree peonies

A bit spendy, this sought-after hybrid, with its multi-colored flowers and lush foliage, offers plenty of bang for your buck.

A child gets some assistance dancing during Narrow Tarot’s set on the opening night of Fisherman’s Village on Thursday, May 18, 2023, at Lucky Dime in downtown Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Fisherman’s Village 2024 casts a wide musical net in Everett

From Allen Stone to a local musician showcase at Zamarama Gallery, get ready for it to get loud downtown.

Gnomes, per lore, are more than garden decor. This guy’s ready to travel.

In fact, his atypical attributes — a blue cap and total lack of garden tools — make this pottery gnome all the more valuable.

Primula denticulata is native to the Himalaya Mountains of Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Nepal, Sikkim, Bhutan, Tibet, Burma, and China. The habitat is wet meadows from 5,000 feet to 14,500 feet. (Richie Steffen/Great Plant Picks)
Great Plant Pick: Drumstick primrose

What: This primrose, also known as Primula denticulata, is quite like a… Continue reading

Support local journalism

If you value local news, make a gift now to support the trusted journalism you get in The Daily Herald. Donations processed in this system are not tax deductible.