French Zoo Plans to Recycle Dung of Two Chinese Pandas into Biogas

By Staff Reporter on April 6, 2013 5:03 AM EDT

Panda
Panda poop will be used to produce biogas. (Photo: Reuters)

A French zoo is planning to recycle the dung of two Chinese pandas into gas and electricity.

Two Chinese pandas, Huan Huan (happy) and Yuan Zi (chubby), arrived at Beauval zoo in central France last year. The zoo received the pandas from China on loan for 10 years at a cost of around a million dollars per year.

The zoo is planning to build a facility at a cost of about $3 million to recycle the dung of pandas and some other animals and produce biogas. It will then be transformed into heat and electricity. The zoo will use some of the fuel produced to supply power for animal habitats.

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For instance, the energy produced will be used to keep animals like gorillas and manatees warm in their closed enclosures. Zoo officials will also use the fuel to heat the buildings that has elephants during winter. This way they would be able to save 40 percent on their gas bill. The rest of the fuel will be sold to state-controlled power company Electricite de France, reports Agence France-Presse (AFP) news agency.

"This initiative is a perfect fit in the policy of sustainable development that we have been applying for a long time," Delphine Delord, spokeswoman for the zoo, told AFP.

This is a first-of-its kind initiative being taken in a French zoo. Two French banks in partnership with France's Centre region will be funding the processing plant which is expected to be operative by next spring.

Pandas are endangered animals that are native to south-central China. According to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), there are 1,600 pandas alive in the wild. The pandas were once found widespread throughout southern and eastern China and also in neighboring Myanmar (Burma) and northern Vietnam. But the expansion of human population and development has restricted the species to some isolated patches of mountain forest in Sichuan, Shaanxi and Gansu provinces.

According to the AFP report, pandas which feed on bamboos can defecate about 66 lbs a day. This makes them the primary candidate to pursue such a green initiative. 

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