Posted on: 30 November, 2023
With some help from Santa, keepers have been gathering samples of poo from animals such as giraffe, eland and zebra, to see if they can make their own wrapping paper.
Elephant dung is sometimes used to make paper in Asia and Africa, though not much is known about the poo of other herbivores. As their waste is mainly fibre, it should make a perfect alternative to wood fibre pulp, which is used for regular paper.
Rosie Sims, Public Engagement Manager at Bristol Zoo Project, said: “It’s a bit of an experiment at this stage and we don’t know if this is going to work, but dung is something we have rather a lot of here at the zoo, so we thought we’d give it a go. Apparently, the finished paper doesn’t smell either, so that’s reassuring!
“One thing we have learnt is that it might take some time to gather enough, as although they’re the world’s tallest living land animals, giraffe poo is surprisingly small and resembles sheep droppings, so we might be there a while!
“Zebra dung is much larger, so that might be easier. We’ve certainly been keeping Santa busy, so whether we will have enough to make it in time for Christmas, is up to him!”
The process of making the paper involves boiling and cleaning the dung to get rid of any bacteria, before mixing it with other non-wood pulp fibres or recycled paper. It is then moulded into wet balls before being flattened out on a mesh surface to create the paper sheet. It goes on to be drained and left to dry. To make their gift wrap more appealing, the team plan to add food colouring.
After helping with the poop collections, our green-robed Father Christmas will be having a rest in his themed tipi in our Festive Woodland, where he’ll be reading festive stories to children. He’ll be there every weekend from Saturday 2 December and then all week from Saturday 16 December through to Saturday 23 December.