I assumed that the zoo would be less than clean and not very green. I also assumed being the mom of three girls meant life would be all roses, tea parties and ballet. Well not really. I imagined that my girls would not have a fascination with all things toilet related.
I was wrong on both counts.
We set out early, armed with a large coffee for me and a giant snack bag for them. My three girls and I piled into the mini-van, picked up Grandma and headed to New York’s Bronx Zoo. On the agenda for the day was a must see look at the monkeys, the giraffes and a ride on the Bug Carousel.
First stop upon arrival? Um…remember the coffee?
The people at the Bronx Zoo are brilliant. They built a state of the art eco-restroom strategically located a mere pee-pee dance away from the parking lot. It’s green and educational (but it had me at hello, I’m in the parking lot) and I just had to tell the world.
The eco-restroom is the most expensive restroom facility in the city, with a $2 million dollar price tag. On the way in (this was almost a problem) there are multiple educational touch and feel displays to explore. My 5-yr-old danced her way through this section and darted away with Grandma to investigate indoor features.
Inside, the designers capitalize on a learning opportunity so often overlooked. On every wall, over every sink, there are cartoon signs explaining the truth about poop, how a gray water system works and how the eco-toilets compost the waste and it all gets used in the garden right outside.
Plan on escaping your education in a nice clean green stall? No such luck. This is where I started to get bored. I got it. I’m in an eco-restroom, quite possibly the cleanest public restroom in the five boroughs. It’s all good. I don’t need a poster with happy little poop eating bugs to keep me company.
Notice I haven’t included any pictures of the eco-toilets? That would be a little too much. The price tag on these units were tad excessive too, ringing in at $250 thousand each. My kids looked them over quite carefully. Let’s leave it at that.
And so we moved on to enjoy the rest of the journey through the we’re so green we compost humanure, Bronx Zoo.
We discovered several eco-restrooms at the zoo, as well as a playground made entirely out of recycled materials. The greening doesn’t end there; the zoo staff uses electric cars to get from Asia to the Serengeti to the Amazon. Shuttle buses operate on compressed natural gas and the redesigned Lion House is the first NYC Landmark Building to receive the LEED Gold rating.
Still, the greenest transportation at the zoo (aside from walking until your feet are numb) is the camel ride. No need to worry about the mess camels leave behind; the zoo’s composted animal waste is used by the New York City Parks Department.
During the obligatory trip to the gift shop, we found poo-paper, all the way from Sri Lanka. Mr. Ellie Pooh supplies visitors with little notepads made entirely from elephant poop. After thoroughly sniffing it, my daughters assured everyone in the vicinity that it does, indeed, smell good.
In case you were wondering, the monkeys were adorable. They were not maliciously pelting each other or tourists with anything at all. Honestly, it was a bit of a let down for my girls.
And we did make it to the Bug Carousel. It appears I am the only woman in NY who finds it odd to mount a giant grasshopper.
Two questions remained at the end of the day:
“Mom, why haven’t you ever taken us to an outhouse?” and “Is an outhouse the greenest way to go?”
Seriously, girls? There is so much more to the world than toilets.