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What Do They Do with All that Poo?

What Do They Do with All that Poo?

Jane Kurtz, Illustrated by Allison Black
Beach Lane Books
40 pp.
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On any given day, an individual zoo can produce more than 5000 pounds of animal waste. So, “what do they do with all that poo?”

The first part of this book makes it clear that poop comes in different sizes, shapes, and colors and that these properties are related to the distinct diets, anatomies, and physiologies of different animals. How animals use their waste can also affect the characteristics of their poop, as well as how and when they poop. Wombats, for example, excrete upward of 100 cube-shaped droppings every evening to mark their territory, whereas sloths descend from their treetop habitat to poop on the ground just once a week.

How do zoos deal with animal waste? Some is just sent off to landfills, but some is also used to monitor the health of the animals. Some is processed into compost for local gardens, and some is recycled to make useful products such as paper and fuel.

Although there’s no main character, every animal is easily related to. The drawings are vivid and, by and large, accurate. (Wombats, however, do not build a scat-fence, as one illustration seems to suggest.)

Most of the animals highlighted in this book are mammals, but it would have been fun to read about the excretions of other species. Perhaps this will be the topic of a follow-up title (book “number 2,” if you will).

About the author

The reviewer is a senior editor at Science.