Nothing goes to waste at Honolulu Zoo

Published: Feb. 18, 2009 at 12:29 PM HST|Updated: Feb. 18, 2009 at 11:11 PM HST
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Peter Luscomb
Peter Luscomb
Maurice Bolusan
Maurice Bolusan

By Ashley Monfort

HONOLULU (KHNL) -- The Honolulu Zoo isn't letting anything go to waste. In this Earth and Sea project report, the interesting way zookeepers are using their biggest animals to beautify the zoo.

Vyguy and Mari have an important role at the Honolulu Zoo. It doesn't take much work. All they have to do is eat. The zookeepers do the rest.

"Their poop is one of the best," elephant manager Maurice Bolusan said.

The zoo is using elephant poop to fertilize its landscape.

"We give them a whole bunch of hay, fruits vegetable and we give them fresh browns," he said.

Both elephants will eat about 300 to 400 pounds of food a day. When their done, their waste is about half the compost heap.

First it looks like this, pounds of animal feces decomposing in the hot sun.

"In a facility like ours where we have a lot of vegetation and a lot of animals," Honolulu Zoo general curator Peter Luscomb said. "There's a lot of material that's discarded everyday."

A sprinkler system sprays a mixture of yeast, bacteria and water to help break down the waste.

"We'll spray that and inoculate it and it allows it to decompose," Luscomb said. "If we weren't composting then all this material would end up going to a landfill."

But from this smelly pile of manure.. something beautiful appears. This garden at the zoo shows what kind of beauty can blossom from this special type of fertilizer.

"We are a conservation organization and we need to recycle, reuse things and minimize the impact that we have on our environment," Luscomb said.

The zoo says they save money by not sending the animal dung to a landfill. It also re-uses old branches as bedding for other animals.