Nearly all of us
have taken a trip to the zoo. There's nothing quite like a day
watching and learning about animals that we might not otherwise see in an
ordinary lifetime. You'll be happy to learn that our own Kansas City
Zoo has come up with a great reason for gardeners to visit - manure!
That's right, the Kansas City Zoo is offering animal manure - dubbed
Zoo Manoo - to gardeners interested in enriching their garden soils and
lawns with this wonderful stuff.
to Zoo Horticulture Director Peter Gross (left) it all started when the
zoo was looking for ways to reduce the extraordinary amount of animal
waste it was sending to landfills each year. A grant from the
Department of Natural Resources several years ago got things going and the
program has been growing ever since. In fact under the Zoo Manoo
program the zoo currently diverts more than 1100 tons of animal waste to
garden use each year!
What is this
Zoo Manoo is the composted manure from a variety of zoo herbivores.
Elephant waste makes up 80% of the total with other hoofed plant eaters
(Rhinos, Giraffes, Gazelles, etc...) making up the rest. After the
raw "poop" is collected from specific animal areas it is trucked
to a central location where the composting begins (right).
Composting generally takes about two months during which time any
pathogens are destroyed and much of the moisture content is released.
While N-P-K analysis
was not readily available Zoo Manoo, gardeners can expect it to range
between 1-2-2 and 2-2-2. Because the actual nitrogen content will be
about double what one would expect from equal amounts of cow or horse
manure gardeners should apply it sparingly - working about 1 to 2 inches
of it into garden soil.
inspection of Zoo Manoo will reveal a number of small rocks
(left). Elephants make a habit of actually eating small
rocks (presumably as a source of sodium and other trace
elements). These can be sifted out if desired or left in
place to add dimension to the stories you will tell about the
source of your rich soil.
Another way to use Zoo Manoo is brewing your own tea for use as a liquid
fertilizer for lawns, gardens, and pots. Just wrap a handful in
cheesecloth, tie it off just like a tea bag and let it steep in a bucket
of water for a couple of days. Use the "tea" in a siphon
sprayer of simply pour it where you need it.
How Do I Get
Zoo Manoo is available by appointment only. Simply call the zoo at
(816) 513-4630 and they will set up a time for your pick-up. The zoo
charges a very reasonable $30 per cubic yard - roughly $50 for a
medium-size truck full or $6 for a garbage bag. Please note that
this is truly a self-service operation - you will need to shovel and bag