The Dallas Zoo trucks in manure from herbivores twice a week to Silver Creek Materials in Fort Worth, where it is converted into a compost called Zoo Poo, for sale in retail stores, the Dallas Zoo gift shop and bulk. Photo by Taylor McKay for Silver Creek Materials.

Feb. 11, 2022

The Dallas Zoo has partnered with Fort Worth recycler, Silver Creek Materials, to convert tons of manure annually from the Zoo’s elephants, giraffes, hippos and other herbivores into compost, the Zoo and Silver Creek announced this week.

Zoo Poo will be available at the Dallas Zoo’s gift shop, local specialty stores and Silver Creek Materials in West Fort Worth. 

The animal manure, with its mixture of hay and bedding material, creates compost for potted plants, growing gardens, landscape areas, and anywhere soil can benefit from additional nutrients.

A portion of Zoo Poo sales will benefit international wildlife conservation organizations supported by the Dallas Zoo.

Dallas Zoo PooConverted compost at Silver Creek Materials. The company projects it will take 100 percent of herbivore manure from the Dallas Zoo beginning this year.​ Photo by Taylor McKay for Silver Creek Materials.

The Dallas Zoo has a goal of diverting 90 percent of its waste from landfills by 2030 as part of its commitment to sustainability. Animal manure is, by far, the heaviest part of waste generation at the Dallas Zoo. Silver Creek Materials projects it will take 100 percent of herbivore manure from the Dallas Zoo beginning this year.

“Each year, our herbivorous animals like elephants, giraffes, and okapi produce more than two million pounds of manure,” said Gregg Hudson, Dallas Zoo’s president and chief executive officer. “The Dallas Zoo is committed to conservation and sustainability as we work to create a better world for animals, and we are thrilled to partner with Silver Creek Materials to make an even bigger impact.”

Silver Creek is a major mining, recycling, composting, and organic materials operation that employs about 130 people at the Fort Worth operation. 

According to Scott Nishimura, a spokesperson for Silver Creek Materials, in addition to its partnership with the Dallas Zoo, the company charges entities to dump their organic material, ranging from the manure to tree limbs, wooden pallets, and even out-of-date beer, liquor, sports drinks and hand sanitizer. (It’s waiving fees for the Zoo.) Silver Creek composts the material and sells the finished product. Workers dump the beer and liquor on the compost piles and mixes it in. Zoo Poo, however, is pristine, containing only the Zoo manure and added water, according to Nishimura.

Silver Creek recycles the aluminum and plastics and glass from its beverage business and has managed to find consistent markets, despite tightening in the recycling industry, he said.

Silver Creek Materials manure compostingThe Zoo Poo composting site at Silver Creek Materials​ in West Fort Worth. Photo byTaylor McKay for Silver Creek Materials

In addition to recycling, the company mines its 600-acre property in far west Fort Worth for materials such as sand. The City of Fort Worth, in dredging Lake Worth several years ago, dumped the sediment it removed from the lake on the Silver Creek property.

The property also contains a saltwater injection well and Silver Creek sells fresh water, Nishimura said in an email. 

“Silver Creek Materials has been committed to recycling for nearly 40 years, and this partnership with the Dallas Zoo deepens that promise to our environment,” Robert Dow, who founded Silver Creek in 1983 and still owns the company today.

According to the Fort Worth Report, the Fort Worth Zoo works with Republic Services to haul animal waste from the zoo to be recycled at Living Earth, an eco-friendly company based in Dallas.

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