France's Beauval Zoo To Recycle Panda Poop, Turn Animal Waste Into Gas And Electricity

04/05/2013 06:09 pm ET

Who knew pandas have such powerful poo?

According to the Agence France-Presse, Saint-Aignan's Beauval zoo will recycle panda poop and other animal excrement, turning the feces into gas and electricity.

The zoo is currently constructing a processing plant capable of converting the waste into biogas, which will then be transformed into heat and electricity. While some of the fuel will provide power to animal habitats, the zoo intends to sell the remainder to state-controlled power company Electricite de France.

As French daily newspaper Le Progress notes, the leftover undigested matter will also be put to good use. The zoo plans to send the digestate to local farmers for use as fertilizer.

Though the Munich Zoo harnessed the power of elephant poop in 2009, Beauval's waste recycling plant will be the first of its kind integrated within a zoo in France, Beauval Director of Communications Delphine Delord said, according to the French-language AFP report. Funded primarily by two French banks in partnership with France's Centre region, the $3 million facility is expected to be up and running by next spring.

Recently, France has also sought to accumulate energy from other nontraditional sources. In Paris, organizers of the annual marathon plan to install energy-harvesting tiles around the course in order to generate power.

“Imagine if your run or walk to work could help to power the lights for your return journey home in the evening,” Laurence Kemball-Cook, the CEO of Pavegen -- the company that produces the tiles -- said in a recent statement.

The Beauval zoo, which currently has two pandas -- Yuan Zi (Chubby) and Huan Huan (Happy) -- on loan from China, is the only zoo in country that features the endangered species. In January, the wildlife park celebrated the one year anniversary of the pandas' arrival.

According to the World Wildlife Fund, there are an estimated 1,600 giant pandas remaining in the wild.

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