Binder Park Zoo Selling ‘Unique Souvenirs’ To Help Budding Gardeners

Posted at 10:50 PM, May 27, 2014
and last updated 2014-05-28 10:15:11-04

BATTLE CREEK, Mich. (May 27, 2014) — If you wanted a unique backstory to go with your prize winning-home grown tomatoes, now is your chance.  The Binder Park Zoo is selling ‘zoo-poo.’

When you have hundreds of mouths to feed, eventually that food has got to go somewhere, and when it does, Frank Cummins goes to work. “I spend about four hours a week on it,” said Cummins, the horticultural supervisor at the zoo.  He is charge of turning the tons of animal waste created at the zoo into usable garden manure.

The process, he said, is easy: just add straw and stir.

In the past, Cummins said, they used to just give the stuff away. “I was having companies come and take it for free, and they would turn around and sell it for top soil. I said, ‘Why can’t we do something like that ourselves?'”

Four years ago, a business model began to come together.  The zoo offered customers a chance for a souvenir that grows on you.

“Twenty-five bucks for a regular truck or trailer load,” said Cummins. “I will fill it up until the tires start to squash, and then they got a load.  Thirty dollars for non-members.”

Cummins believes there are certain advantages to this type of natural fertilizer. For one, you can have a unique story to tell: “Hey, look at my garden! I got some zebra poop in there.”

Another advantage is that you know exactly where the fertilizer is coming from. If organic is what you are after, Cummins said, the zoo only offers manure from herbivores.  Omnivores and carnivores are kept out of the mix. “Just in case there are any disease issues or anything,” he said.

Cummins estimates about 20 different species at the zoo contribute to the final product.

“The money goes right back to the zoo to fund new exhibits and maintain the zoo.”

Zoo poo is available for pick-up this Thursday, May 29, or the following Thursday, June 5, from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.