Holy crap! Exotic compost from Woodland Park Zoo up for grabs

SEATTLE — This year you don’t have to get lucky to bring home the prize of the zoo.

Woodland Park Zoo has dropped the traditional lottery system for its animal byproduct Zoo Doo and made the exotic compost available to all during its spring Fecal Fest.

The Seattle zoo has offered the doo to the public for nearly four decades, but for years it was short on supply to meet the demand from scores of gardeners statewide.

Now there’s plenty to spread around.

Order your dung today, with pickup in April, May and June, at www.zoo.org/zoodoo or call 206-625-POOP. That is a real phone number. This is serious!

Zoo Doo is composed of species feces from a variety of the zoo’s non-primate herbivores. Tapirs, pudus, mountain goats, rhinos, hippos, giraffes and zebras have all contributed to the pile.

You don’t have to hold your nose, despite the name Fecal Fest.

“It does not smell facally, have no fear,” said Liv Johansson, the zoo’s sustainable waste management specialist.

Johansson is “Dr. Doo,” AKA the Princess of Poo, the GM of BM, the Captain of Caca.

“There’s a lot of different ways to say manure, and I think we’ve figured out almost all of them over the past 40 years,” Johansson said.

People can get a bulk of 50 to 550 gallons of the prized poo.

“They need to bring their own shovels or spades,” Johansson said. “It’s all part of the fun.”

By turning animal waste into fertilizer, the zoo saves over $125,000 a year. About 500 tons of animal dung and bedding material are annually made into Zoo Doo.

“It is one of the most effective, efficient and useful ways that we can turn our excess organic material into a beneficial product,” Johansson said. “Compost can bring soil back to life and, with it, improve ecosystems everywhere.”

For the past decade the zoo’s spring and fall Fecal Fests had a lottery for people to enter online in hopes of being randomly selected to buy the compost. At times, only 1 in 4 were lucky enough to get the chance to take home a truckload.

That changed with the 2019 expansion of the Zoo Doo system into a modern composting facility, with drainage pipes and automated temperature probes.

The process begins with fresh manure and bedding material collected from animal enclosures.

“After it has been composted and left to cure for about six months, really it’s just this rich, dark, earthy, almost sweet-smelling compost,” Johansson said.

Zoo Doo is perfect for growing many plants, according to “Dr. Doo.”

Wildflowers. Bell peppers. Huge, huge juicy tomatoes. Squashes. Those are a few of the things,” Johansson said. “Anything that grows in the earth will grow well with Zoo Doo. Everything thrives.”

The fall Fecal Fest will return in October.

The scoop

Pickup dates for bulk Zoo Doo are the first Saturdays and Sundays in April, May and June. Cost: 50 gallons, $40. 100 gallons, $70. Truck beds of Zoo Doo are $90 to $120. Go to www.zoo.org/zoodoo/order to book a pickup, pay and receive instructions.

In addition to bulk, 2 and 4 gallon buckets, $16 and $30, are available for pickup at the zoo on the second and fourth Wednesday of each month from 2 to 4 pm Must preorder: www.zoo.org/zoodoo/order.

Pint containers of Zoo Doo, $6.95, or Worm Doo, $10, are available year round at the zoo’s ZooStores while supplies last.

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