Denver Zoo: Help its elephant poop dreams come true by voting in the Pepsi Refresh Project

Everybody poops, including elephants -- who produce 200 pounds of the stuff every day. That's the weight of a man. Hear that, kids? An elephant poops out a man every single day.

And the Denver Zoo has a plan to turn all that poop into electricity to power its new Asian Tropics exhibit, which could be home to the country's largest captive herd of male elephants. But the zoo needs your help to make its poop dreams come true.

The zoo's poop-to-power project, which will use a process called gasification to turn the zoo's animal waste and trash into a usable combustible gas, is in the running to win a $250,000 grant from the Pepsi Refresh Project. It's competing against more than 1,000 other ideas, and the one that gets the most votes by December 31 wins.

"Poop-to-power may not be the sexiest project on the list, but it could be the most beneficial," says George Pond, the zoo's vice president for planning and capital projects. "Poop and trash can be found everywhere, so to utilize it as a green energy resource is something that could benefit the entire planet."

Saving the planet not enough of a motivation, for you? Today, tomorrow and Sunday, the zoo will offer buy-one-get-one-free daytime admission to anyone who shows zoo cashiers a sent text message that proves they voted for the project by texting 104740 to 73774. You can also vote online at

Asian Tropics, which is currently under construction, is a $50 million project. Half of the money to build it will come from a $62.5 million zoo-improvement bond issue approved by Denver voters in 1999, $25 million of which is earmarked for Asian Tropics. As for the other $25 million, the zoo is still in the process of raising it. According to zoo spokesman Sean Andersen-Vie, the zoo is still $7.2 million short.

More from our Things To Do archive: "CU Boulder swimsuit calendar: Sneak preview of launch party sure to heat up Boulder."

KEEP WESTWORD FREE... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Melanie Asmar is a staff writer for Westword. She joined the paper in 2009 and has won awards for her stories about education, immigration and epic legal battles. Got a tip? She'd love to hear it.
Contact: Melanie Asmar