If ever an opportunity arises to visit the “bowels” of the zoo, take advantage of it. And when we say bowels, we mean it! It is there you will find Mr. Jimmy Bucsit flipping, and forking, and hauling, and hosing, and performing all kinds of other duties required to keep those famous piles of poop percolating in the Zoo Doo yard. It is for that work—25 dedicated years of it—that Jimmy was honored this month with a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Washington Organic Recycling Council.
Many of our visitors have experienced the fun of Fecal Fest and purchased our well-known Zoo Doo, and increasingly popular Bedspread. Well, it is thanks to Jimmy and his 25 years of commendable service that we are able to provide such unique offerings. It is with his help that we are able to create and maintain a major reserve of specially-treated, microbe-rich, poop- riddled compost that reflects our commitment to sustainable practices. This wealth of onsite raw materials and the products they ultimately become are a vital part of the zoo’s Living Soils Program. It is Jimmy’s professional dedication that makes this possible. With an understanding of healthy soil as the genesis of an ecologically-balanced environment in which to care for our animals, he approaches his role with an eye on the greater good.
By distributing our composted materials to the public, we are contributing to the region’s greater environmental vigor; when people purchase Zoo Doo and add it to their home gardens they are spreading the word, so to speak. They are showing, by example, how to begin with the basics and build from there. And it all starts with the turning of our animals’ contributions into magical mountains of mulch. And that all starts with Jimmy.
The concept of the Zoo Doo yard, as we know it, was conceived over two decades ago. According to Jimmy, who has been there from its inception, waste management once meant the pitch-forking of poop into trucks to be hauled offsite. The zoo has since allocated resources to streamline the process and has found ways to turn the problem of waste disposal into an asset. As Jimmy puts it, “we have made the most of a messy situation.”
It is a great pleasure to see this quiet figure receive the accolades he is “doo” with the honor of this Lifetime Achievement Award. When asked what he thinks of the organization that has bestowed his award, Jimmy has a lot to say. He can’t seem to stress enough how honored he feels. Impressed by the council’s members (including business leaders, state representatives, Department of Ecology constituents, and college professors), he describes them as an “elite group of pioneering intellectuals” who are responsible for conservation research and policy-making. He appreciates the challenges they face and says, “I hold this award on par with a ribbon for a track and field championship competition, where some of the best runners and I hit the finish line at the same time.”
So, if ever you spot this behind-the-scenes member of our zoo family, with his signature silver hair and mile-wide smile, driving to-and-fro in his enormous truck, know that he is making a major difference. Know that he is a steward and keeper of the landscape. Know that he helps make our zoo the plant-rich, happy animals’ home we love.
Photos (from top): Maurer Group, Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo.