Detroit Zoo turns to natural energy source

Jennifer Chambers
The Detroit News

The latest crowdfunding effort?

Think zoo poo.

Turns out about 400 tons of animal manure are generated annually at the Detroit Zoo.

Now, the Michigan Economic Development Corp. and the Detroit Zoological Society have announced an effort to support an energy-producing biodigester that will turn all that organic animal waste into power in the form of methane-rich gas.

If the zoo reaches its goal of $55,000 by June 15, the MEDC will provide a $55,000 matching grant.

The biogas will be used to help power the 18,000-square-foot Ruth Roby Glancy Animal Health Complex, saving the zoo up to $80,000 a year in energy costs.

The system will also convert manure into compost that will be used to fertilize animal habitats, gardens and public spaces throughout the 125-acre zoo complex.

Construction on the anaerobic biodigester will begin in the spring. It will be the first zoo-based system of its kind in the country when it's completed later this year.

MEDC Community Development Director Katharine Czarnecki said, "This campaign will allow residents, businesses, and everyone who appreciates the zoo and the positive impact it has on Metro Detroit to be a part of this innovative undertaking."

The campaign is through Michigan-based crowdfunding platform Patronicity. To donate go to

(313) 222-2269