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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.

According 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 Stuff?
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.

Close 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.

 

Tea, Anyone?
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 Some?
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 it yourself.

 

 
 

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