ZOO DOO COMPOST
The most "poopular" compost in the Pacific Northwest
The Scoop on Zoo Doo
Woodland Park Zoo's Zoo Doo is the most exotic compost available in the Pacific Northwest. As a conservation organization, Woodland Park Zoo is committed to being a steward of the environment and providing this 100% recycled product to the public. Zoo Doo is a fully composted blend of animal manures mixed with straw bedding, grass, leaves and wood chips from the grounds of the zoo.
Watch this video to see how Zoo Doo comes together behind the scenes at Woodland Park Zoo.
All the non-primate herbivore (plant eater) animals are happy to doo their part. These animals include giraffe, oryx, hippos, gazelles, zebras and elephants among others. Woodland Park Zoo creates nearly 1 million pounds of compost each year saving $60,000 per year in disposal costs.
Creating Compost at the Zoo
The Zoo Doo process begins when fresh manure and straw bedding are collected from animal enclosures. Next, leaves, wood chips and other organic materials from the zoo grounds are combined with the manure and straw mixture. When this material is watered and piled into long rows, it quickly heats up, reaching 150+ degrees! The high temperatures destroy pathogens and weed seeds. The piles are turned and watered until the mixture becomes dark and crumbly, bearing little resemblance to the original components. After three months, the compost is cool and ready for use in home gardens.
Why Use Zoo Doo?
Finished compost is a dark, rich humus with some woody material remaining. As an amendment to the soil, compost improves both physical condition and fertility. Compost makes your plants healthier by improving aeration, root penetration, water retention and by reducing crusting of the soil surface. Compost adds texture to heavy clay soils making them easier to work and enhances the water and nutrient retention of sandy soils. Unlike inorganic fertilizers, most of the nutrients in Woodland Park Zoo Doo compost are present in a stable organic form more readily accessible for plant uptake. These nutrients are slowly but steadily released, more closely matching the slow and steady needs of plants throughout the growing season. Finally, the trace minerals released by the decomposed plant tissues make a more complete diet for your plants. These trace nutrients are not often found in chemical fertilizers. You can achieve similar results in your own backyard.
Visit the Garden Hotline or call 206.633.0224 for more home-composting information.
Purchasing Zoo Doo
Year-round you can purchase Zoo Doo in 2-gallon containers and 1-pint containers at our ZooStores at the South and West Entrances.
Bulk amounts are available twice a year during our spring and fall Fecal Fests. Due to its popularity and limited quantities, we have created a lottery system to obtain Zoo Doo during Fecal Fest. For complete details, you can call 206.625.POOP (7667) for lottery information.
2-gallon containers are $12.95; pint containers are $4.95. A special 4-gallon Holidoo container is available during the holidays at our ZooStore for $20.
Supplies are limited. To order and ship or to check availability, call our ZooStore at 206.548.1535.
Easy Composting at Home
Woodland Park Zoo is not the only place composting can be done, nor does it have to be done on such a large scale. You can create your own compost in your own backyard. It makes sense for the zoo, why not for you?
Composting is a natural process of decay. It goes on around us all the time from the tomato that got left in the back of the fridge last month to the leaves in the yard. When we talk about composting we are simply exploring various ways to assist the natural process.
Composting, at its simplest, requires only four things:
- Organic material
The following are some tips for getting started at home.
To assist the composting process, the natural decomposers—microbes—need to be fed and cared for.
A properly balanced diet for composting is a thorough mix of fresh (green) and dried (brown) plants—such as fresh grass clippings and old leaves. The more compost material that is chopped or shredded, the faster it will decompose. Gather and mix the shredded materials together in a pile so that about two thirds is brown and one third is green.
Add just enough water while building the pile to ensure it stays about as damp as a wrung-out sponge.
The compost pile should be large enough to hold the heat; about three to four feet on a side is ideal. This size insulates but still allows sufficient oxygen throughout.
Turn the pile occasionally to encourage air flow and to add water as needed to maintain dampness. Given a little time (as little as four to five weeks), you too can create rich, crumbly compost in your own backyard!
Kitchen Waste/Food Scraps
Although food scraps are organic materials, do not include them in an open compost pile. Left in the open, they tend to attract scavenger animals such as squirrels, rats or flies.
Vegetable kitchen wastes are best handled in one or more of the following ways:
Pit — Bury food wastes in holes dug in the garden. Cover with at least eight inches of soil.
Trench — Establish three rows one to two feet wide. In row one, plant this year1s crops. In the adjacent row, bury food wastes. Row three is used as a path. Rotate these rows so that the second year, row one becomes the scrap row, row two the path and row three the food crop row.
Covered Compost Bin — A well secured, sturdy cover will discourage pests from robbing your compost. Try to bury the vegetable waste as well.
Worm Bin — Rather than bury the wastes you can also establish a worm bin using compost or manure worms. In this system, set up a container (commonly a box about 3'x2'x1'), mix in shredded newspaper or dried leaves, a little water, food scraps and worms, and close the lid. The worms will do the rest.
The simplest method to manage a worm bin is to add food scraps in one half of the bin for about three weeks. Then start working in the other half, again starting with layers of paper or leaves, food and worms. The worms still in the far end will finish their supply and move into the fresher foods leaving their castings behind. These castings can be harvested and used as fine compost.
If you want more information on worm composting, also known as vermicomposting, read Mary Appelhoff's “Worms Eat My Garbage,” published by Flower Field Press.