As part of its efforts to conserve and protect earth’s resources, Micke Grove Zoo follows the action program of “Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle.” The Zoo’s Animal Care Specialists created a soil bed that is used to compost kitchen waste and two separate beds for growing produce. The kitchen waste includes leftover or unusable portions of animal diets created in the animal kitchen. The animal kitchen is where diets are prepared for all of the captive wildlife housed at the Micke Grove Zoo.
Most food waste from the zoo kitchen is organic in nature and is biodegradable. When mixed in soil, it creates a material similar to humus adding valuable nutrients for plants while improving the quality of the topsoil. Pumpkin and watermelon plants established naturally in the garden from seeds that were transplanted in the food waste. Animal Care Specialist Colleen Mullikin planted acorn squash and honeydew melon in the plant beds. These plants are thriving and the Zoo now has produce that will be used in the animal diets after they are harvested.
“Once these vegetables are done producing, we hope to plant a fall garden and continue to produce some of our own vegetables,” shared Mullikin.
Recycling and composting food waste helps to reduce the large expanses of organic materials being sent to landfills and incinerators around the world. The United States Environmental Protection Agency estimates that around 35 million tons of American food waste reaches landfills and incinerators each year, making up around 21 percent of the country’s municipal waste. Composting food is an excellent method for recycling biodegradable waste. The use of compost created from kitchen waste has an ecological perspective. By diverting its food waste to a sustainable garden, Micke Grove Zoo is decreasing its environmental impact while also benefitting its captive wildlife with locally resourced produce. Micke Grove Zoo is keen on expanding its efforts to improve its harvest used to create diets for its captive wildlife.
Micke Grove Zoo is owned by San Joaquin County and is located at 11793 N. Micke Grove Road in Micke Grove Regional Park (one mile west of Highway 99 in Lodi). The cost for zoo admission is $5.00 for visitors ages 14 and older, $3.00 for visitors ages 3-13, and free for guests under the age of 3 and members of the Micke Grove Zoological Society. The Zoo is open daily from 10AM to 5PM except Christmas and last gate admission is at 4:30PM. Separate parking fees apply and can be reviewed at www.sjparks.com.
Learn more about Micke Grove Zoo and its programs and opportunities at www.mgzoo.com.