The Heap

Holy Crap!

The Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden is turning to an energy source that it should never run out of: animal dung. According to the Cincinnati Enquirer, "In about two years, when the plan is fully implemented, the elephant and giraffe houses will be heated, cooled and lit by animal waste converted to energy. At least two other zoos - Denver and Dallas - are in the beginning stages of similar projects." Zoo officials benefits of the program will include significantly reduced energy expenses and increased landfill diversion.

Duke Energy and the Ohio Department of Development currently are conducting a feasibility study to see how much energy can be produced from the waste, the paper says. Results are due in the spring.

"We have four elephants weighing more than 37,000 pounds, and they produce 800 pounds of waste a day," Mark Fisher, senior director of facilities and planning for the zoo, told the Enquirer. "That's at least 20 kw (kilowatts) and enough to heat the elephant house and maybe giraffe house, too (on a daily basis). Right now, we pay Rumpke to haul the waste away, so there's another savings and another plus because we're diverting it from a landfill."

As facilities and communities strive to increase landfill diversion, animal waste, believe it or not, could very well become a diversion target. About two years ago, I wrote about a similar program launched by San Francisco and Norcal Waste Systems.