Detroit Zoo to Turn Animal Waste into Energy


ROYAL OAK — As a part of its Greenprint sustainability initiative, the Detroit Zoological Society has partnered with the Michigan Economic Development Corp. to construct an energy-producing biodigester that will turn animal manure and other organic waste into power.

“The biodigester will turn one of our most abundant resources – manure – into energy, and represents a significant step on our green journey,” says Ron Kagan, Detroit Zoological Society CEO and executive director.

Through Michigan-based crowdfunding platform Patronicity, the partners have launched a campaign to support the system. If the Detroit Zoological Society reaches its crowdfunding goal of $55,000 by June 15, the Michigan Economic Development Corp. will provide a $55,000 matching grant.

The biodigester will change organic waste and the 400 tons of animal manure generated annually at the zoo into a methane-rich gas that will be used to help power the 18,000-square-feet Ruth Roby Glancy Animal Health Complex, saving the zoo $70-80,000 each 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 zoo.

Construction on the biodigester will begin in spring and when it is completed in the fall, it will be the first zoo-based system of its kind in the country. 

For project details or to donate, visit