The first 1,000 guests to take a sustainability tour highlighting the anaerobic digester during an April 14 GreenFest event will receive a 5-gallon bucket of Detroit Zoo Poo compost. The pictured 5-gallon box will be available for $10 at the zoo’s gift shop.

The first 1,000 guests to take a sustainability tour highlighting the anaerobic digester during an April 14 GreenFest event will receive a 5-gallon bucket of Detroit Zoo Poo compost. The pictured 5-gallon box will be available for $10 at the zoo’s gift shop.

Photo provided by the Detroit Zoo


Detroit Zoo to hold GreenFest event April 14

First 1,000 visitors to receive ‘zoo poo’ compost

By: Sarah Wojcik | Rochester Post | Published April 10, 2018

ROYAL OAK — The Detroit Zoo will distribute 5-gallon buckets of its signature Detroit Zoo Poo compost, which it creates in its anaerobic digester, during its sixth annual GreenFest.

The event will take place from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, April 14, and will focus on celebrating Earth Day and the ways that people can work green initiatives into their daily lives.

The first 1,000 guests to embark on a sustainability tour highlighting the anaerobic digester will receive a token for a 5-gallon bucket of “zoo poo,” courtesy of the Home Depot Foundation, to pick up after their visit.

“It’s a wonderful fertilizer for plants and flowers,” said Patricia Janeway, of the Detroit Zoo. “They would mix it in equal parts with potting soil for a container garden or for soil in the garden, and it adds wonderful nutrients.”

Janeway said the anaerobic digester, which resembles a four-car garage, uses organic materials such as food scraps and the dung of its own herbivores to produce methane gas, which the zoo uses to power its animal hospital, and the resulting byproduct is the nutrient-rich compost.

The animal hospital, she said, is where the zoo’s 2,000 animals go for wellness checkups, testing, surgeries and X-rays.

During the tour, she said, guests will not see the actual digester but rather a display, and representatives from the zoo’s partner, Detroit Dirt, will be on hand to discuss how the process works.

“This is the first anaerobic digester in Michigan, and the first anywhere in the country,” Janeway said. “It’s a very innovative system, and we’re pretty excited about it because it’s another step on our green journey to become more environmentally friendly.”

The anaerobic digester annually converts 500 tons of animal manure and organic waste.

Besides the sustainability tour, GreenFest will feature educational rain gardens, its solar energy system, farm-to-table options, chemistry demonstrations, zookeeper talks and more. 

Janeway said one of the zoo’s sustainability initiatives includes no longer selling bottled water, which keeps an estimated 60,000 plastic bottles out of landfills and encourages patrons to bring reusable water bottles. Another, she said, is installing permeable pavement instead of asphalt.

“We’ll have a demonstration about how it works and how it’s good for the environment, in the hope that people will consider installing it if they have to have their driveway done or put in a path,” she said.

The Oakland County Board of Commissioners will be present at GreenFest to offer information and resources about conservation programs and green initiatives offered by the county.

Representatives from Oakland County Community & Home Improvement, Oakland County Parks and Recreation, Michigan State University Extension, the North Oakland Household Hazardous Waste Program and the Oakland Livingston Human Service Agency will also be on hand.

“This is a great opportunity to partner with the Detroit Zoo on a project that is so important,” Oakland County Commissioner Gary R. McGillivray, who spearheaded the partnership, said in a statement. “So many families are living on tight budgets, and this event will give them ideas on how to save — from making their homes warmer in the winter to gardening and growing food.”

GreenFest is an initiative of Greenprint, the zoo’s plan to refine and improve green practices at the zoo and at Belle Isle Nature Center, and to encourage green action in the community.

For more information, call (248) 541-5717 or visit www.detroitzoo.org.

The Detroit Zoo is located at 8450 W. 10 Mile Road, east of Woodward Avenue.

Call Staff Writer Sarah Wojcik at (586) 218-5006.