VnExpress International
The most read Vietnamese newspaper
Contact us |
Follow us on            instagram

Elephant dung makes good sheets: Saigon zoo

By Quynh Tran   June 28, 2022 | 08:27 pm PT
The Saigon Zoo and Botanical Garden in HCMC's District 1 recycles 3-5 kilograms of elephant dung into paper sheets every weekend.
Elephant dung makes good sheets: Saigon zoo

Zoo employees collect around 800 kg of dung from five elephants in their enclosure.

In the past, the dung was discarded or used for manure. Now, it gets recycled into paper.

Mai Khac Trung Truc, director of the Saigon Zoo and Botanical Garden, said the elephants eat mostly grass and sugar cane, so their dung has a lot of fiber and isn't too smelly.

"They can be used to make paper. Some countries have already done it and are producing high quality paper," he said.

Truc said such recycling would help raise awareness about wildlife protection and teach children to save resources and protect the environment.

The zoo has begun recycling elephant dung since February.

Elephant dung makes good sheets: Saigon zoo

Last Friday, Truc washed the collected dung at least seven times to remove impurities, leaving only the fiber left for recycling. The fiber was boiled at 200 degrees Celsius for two hours to kill bacteria and remove odor.

The zoo uses around 3-5kg of elephant dung to make paper every weekend.

"This is still experimental and no machinery is used. We do it manually and not for profit, so we only make several dozen paper sheets at a time," Truc said.

Elephant dung makes good sheets: Saigon zoo

In the front yard of the veterinary department, the boiled fiber is dried under the sun.

Elephant dung makes good sheets: Saigon zoo

The dried fiber is light colored. A kilogram of elephant dung yields half a kilogram of fiber on average.

Elephant dung makes good sheets: Saigon zoo

Nguyen Kieu Tuyet Ngan blends the fiber with water.

"The process is similar to ordinary paper-making, but the zoo does so manually without any industrial chemicals," she said.

For the past year, Ngan has been working as a collaborator for the zoo's paper-making project.

Elephant dung makes good sheets: Saigon zoo

Because there's no chemical involved, tapioca starch and some scrap paper is added to enhance the product's texture.

Elephant dung makes good sheets: Saigon zoo

All the ingredients are blended with water, poured into a mold and filtered.

Elephant dung makes good sheets: Saigon zoo

The residue after mixture is filtered is paper paste.

Elephant dung makes good sheets: Saigon zoo

Huynh Le Nhu Ngoc brings the molds into the sun for about a minute, then simply picks the sheets up. The sheets are dried for another eight hours to get the final product.

"When we first did this, the paper sheets became wet and moldy under certain weather conditions. The elephants also eat different kinds of food, meaning their dung is of varying quality as well," she said.

Elephant dung makes good sheets: Saigon zoo

A kilogram of elephant dung is recycled into 20 A3, A4 sheets, roughly. The sheets are dark in color and slightly rough to the touch, but are tough and not easily damaged.

The paper sheets are given to children to paint on, make cards and other items.

Elephant dung makes good sheets: Saigon zoo

Children draw on the paper sheets at the Le Petit Musee gallery in Thu Duc City's Thao Dien Ward.

"Some schools have placed orders for the paper to teach their students about environmental protection. In the future, we will experiment with making paper from the giraffe or hippo dung," said zoo director Truc.

The Saigon Zoo and Botanical Garden, built in 1864, is among the world's oldest zoos. It hosts thousands of plant and animal species, both endemic and foreign.

 
Enjoy unlimited articles and premium content with only $1.99 Subscribe now
 
go to top