Reindeer Poop Raises $20,884 For Miller Park Zoo


Turning reindeer dung into gems for necklaces and ornaments has raised a pile of money for the Miller Park Zoo.The last two ornaments for the year were sold Sunday bringing the total raised for the zoo to $20,884. The fundraiser organized by the Miller Park Zoological Society brought in about $5,000 in 2008.

Chief “gemologist” Susie Ohley estimated about 300 necklaces and more than 2,000 ornaments were made this year, the second year of the project.”For sure this has been great for the zoo,” said Ohley, spokeswoman for the zoological society. “We are very appreciative of the support and attention this project has given us.”

The “Magical Reindeer Gems” are dime-sized pieces of dung from the zoo’s reindeer that have been dehydrated, sterilized and spray-painted with glitter and strung together with wire and beads.

The necklaces were added this year to the product line after people buying ornaments asked if there were any jewelry.Initially, Ohley said 100 necklaces would be made for the year, but the nationwide demand for the reindeer dung products pushed their gem making into overtime, she said.

“I lost track of exactly how many we made because it seemed like we were making them 24/7,” she addedOhley said she and the rest of the “gemologists” are too pooped to make anymore this year. But the ornaments and necklaces will return to the zoo’s gift shop next holiday season.

The zoological society also received requests for the ornaments and necklaces from all over the world, including Australia, England and Germany, but federal regulations prevent the reindeer dung from being exported.The money raised through the sale of the “gems” has not been set aside for a specific project, Ohley said. But the money will go to help the city-owned zoo, 1020 S. Morris Ave., as needed.



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