[permaculture] Zoo Power

mIEKAL aND dtv at mwt.net
Tue May 3 14:50:09 EDT 2005

(if you gotta have zoo's at least make use of what's right under yr 

Answer to zoo's power needs may be right under their nose

Tuesday, May 3, 2005 Posted: 12:03 PM EDT (1603 GMT)

SYRACUSE, New York (AP) -- The Rosamond Gifford Zoo is looking to 
become the first zoo in the nation to be powered by its own animal 
waste -- particularly the prodigious piles produced by its pachyderms.

The zoo -- world prominent for its Asian elephant breeding program -- 
is studying how feasible it would be to switch to animal waste as an 
alternative energy source to reduce its $400,000 annual heating and 
electricity bill.

The zoo's six elephants produce more than 1,000 pounds of dung per day, 
said Zoo Director Anne Baker.

"Zoos are about conservation and stemming the loss of animals and 
habitat," Baker said. "But conservation also is about how people use 
natural resources. This is an opportunity to give visitors the whole 

The zoo sends most of its animal waste to a local farm, where it is 
composted. The zoo spends about $10,000 a year on animal-waste 
disposal, but Baker noted it also requires the use of additional fossil 
fuels for transportation.

"This would be just such a good idea on so many levels," she said.

Although other zoos have come up with creative ways to reuse their 
elephant manure -- including using it to make stationery -- Rosamond 
Gifford appears to be the first to propose using it for power, 
according to Jane Ballentine, a spokeswoman for the American Zoo and 
Aquarium Association.

Baker said the idea of using animal waste for energy first arose 
several years ago when she was talking to local officials about the 
potential for creating a more environmentally friendly and 
self-sustaining zoo.

Because the elephants eat mostly hay, they are the ideal waste 
producers for the project, Baker said. Additionally, they are 
inefficient digesters, which makes their feces higher in energy 
content, she said.

The zoo also will look at using the manure from its domestic farm 
animals, its other hoof stock, such as its bison and caribou, and even 
its lions and tigers, she said. Depending on the process, the zoo 
animal waste could be used to produce methane or hydrogen for powering 
a fuel cell or generator.

In the United States, a number of farms have used animal waste to 
produce power, so the technology is available to apply at the zoo, said 
John Fox of Homeland Energy Resources Development, a New York 
City-based renewable energy developer assisting with the study.

But there are questions to be answered to know whether it can be 
worthwhile, he said.

The study will start by evaluating the energy-producing potential of 
all the animals' dung. Another important question, said Fox, is 
determining just how much animal waste the zoo produces.

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