Closing The Loop With Exotic Manure

by Anna de la Vega

Zoos in the UK should be cashing in on the ‘zoo doo’ and harnessing the power of the earthworm. A zoo is the organic gardener and worm farmer’s dream, supplying a steady mountain of nutrient rich exotic manure, and Seattle’s Woodland Park Zoo is cashing in on the custom.

Connoisseur of manure Dan Corum, also known as Dr. Doo, the zoo’s Recycling and Compost Coordinator now runs the Fecal Fest due to popular demand for the zoo’s doo, which has been in high demand since 1985. The online lottery system runs during Autumn and Spring with residents winning the opportunity to fill up their own 100 gallon containers at a cost of $40. Since running the Fecal Fest the zoo are making savings of $100,000 in tipping fees a year and making an additional $20,000 in sales.

In 2016 worm farming was introduced into the waste management of the zoo doo, and as the connoisseur of manure Corum naturally recognises the superiority and quality of worm manure, so reserves it for onsite use, selling to the public only a small quantity. A pint of Worm Doo will set you back $10. The zoo’s Worm Doo is used in-house to grow wheatgrass to feed the animals within the grounds and greenhouse, replacing the need for harmful  energy intensive synthetic fertilisers and pesticides, eliminating health implications and cost.

Manure is one of the most valuable resources for communities, and it’s worth will be magnified as we move closer to exhausting our already rapidly depleting natural resources. Harnessing the power of manure, and the earthworm, will empower communities to feed themselves, building soil fertility on our farms and within our gardens. Despite the zoo being  the most obscure source of manure, growing even obscurer as we move into the planet’s sixth mass extinction with 60% loss of animal species since 1970, it provides a source of hope. Considering an elephant produces 40 tonnes of manure a year – double that of a dairy cow – their contribution alone to food security and soil fertility is undeniable.



‘Zoo Doo’ is the trademark of Seattle Woodland Park Zoo.

For Anna’s full report from her research trip funded by the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust and the Royal Horticultural Society, please follow this link.