Poop with a Purpose: Saving the Elephants with Paper

Abu Dhabi , 23 September 23, 2019 ; With so many amazing animals in the Emirates Park Zoo family it isn’t hard to see why at their heart, they are so devoted to welfare and conservation.  They believe that all habitats should be protected, from those for wildlife to the planet as a whole, and they are more than happy to come up with some uniquely wild ways to do that!  Enter their elephant poop paper.  Yes, you did read that correctly.  You can now buy very special paper at Emirates Park Zoo and it’s made on-site, completely out of elephant dung!

EPZ is constantly making changes to improve their sustainability credentials, including by converting all of their organic waste (human and animal) into fertile compost and reusable materials.  But it was the ingenious Zooducators (the educational team) that realised there was something more ‘smelly’ they could add.  Their two trunktastic Indian elephants Madu and Rada are some of the most beloved animals in the zoo and as well as their cucumber eating and water-spraying abilities, they had another unique attribute; fibre-filled poop.  Once collected, it is just a short process to convert it into sheets of paper that can be decorated or coloured.  We all know how important it is to recycle, so this animalistic feature offers the perfect chance to really help save the planet.   But how does it work?

The Zoossential Details

Since elephants only digest around 45% of their food, their waste product is mostly fibre, which makes it extremely ideal for making paper.  The first step is to wash the dung, which they actually do 14 times(!) to make sure it is thoroughly clean and sterilized.  Once it is dry and any unwanted residue is removed, it is blended with waste paper (newspapers, wrappings, print offs etc) to create a cohesive mixture.  It is then poured onto a frame and compressed to drain out water and then (thanks to the Dubai climate) laid out in the hot sun to dry naturally.  With 1kg of elephant dung, the EPZ team can make 10 pieces of poo paper!

The Happy Herd Bonus

As well as helping to protect the earth, there was another added benefit to this wafting goal, elephant conservation.  EPZ has partnered with Wildlife Alliance in Cambodia to donate proceeds from their Poo Paper to raise funds for wildlife rescue, conservation and education projects for elephants in need around the world.  The Wildlife Alliance has been at the forefront of innovative conservation programmes and animal protection since 1995.  They have worked across Southeast Asia, Russia, South America and the Western Pacific.  In the last ten years they have operated as the only environmental education team in Cambodia and have managed to successfully rescue and care for several Asian elephants in desperate need of help.  Emirates Park Zoo knows all too well how mistreated or vulnerable animals can be, especially since Madu and Rada were rescued from their own trauma in 2007.  Being able to work with an organisation like Wildlife Alliance is a wonderful opportunity to help protect this at-risk species and even Madu and Rada get to help too!

If you have felt your paper lacked a good story, or a more smelly beginning, you can now purchase your very own Elephant Poo Paper at Emirates Park Zoo.  Not only will you be helping the planet with an eco-friendly selection, 20% of each card sold will go to support the team at Wildlife Alliance and protect the next elephant.

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