Reindeer Poop Pendants: Good Gift or Just Gross?
John Tobias, the former superintendent of the Miller Park Zoo in Bloomington, Ill., had a grandmother who knew, and she used to go out with her grandchildren into the cold winter air on Christmas Eve so they could all sprinkle homemade chocolate chips on the snow. Santa and his reindeer needed help finding their house, you see, and the chips would make them think that other reindeer had stopped by to say hello.
Susie Ohley, the community development advocate for the Miller Park Zoological Society, loved Tobias' family tradition and wanted to pay tribute to it at the zoo. Last year, she experimented with the idea of ornaments made from the zoo's reindeer dung, and called them reindeer gem ornaments. They wouldn't stay on the shelves. So this holiday season, Ohley and her zoo "elves" have been working overtime to produce not just ornaments, but necklaces as well.
The reindeer droppings come in "endless" supply, Ohley tells PEOPLEPets.com. "We have two female reindeer here who have no problem supplying us with gems."
The gems are dehydrated and put through an autoclave machine to sanitize them. They are then hand-drilled before receiving several coats of shimmery paint. The Zootique was prepared for this year's orders, and made 2,000 ornaments and several hundred pendants prior to the start of the season. All proceeds benefit the zoological society.
The unique nature of the gifts has meant lots of publicity for the zoo, and Ohley has received calls from all over the world, including Guam, Australia and Germany. "Unfortunately, we cannot ship internationally" Ohley says. "They do have feces in them."
Ohley even got an e-mail from a U.S. soldier stationed in Iraq – he wanted to know if the zoo would send a reindeer gem gift to his mother. While the gems are not available for order online, the Zootique takes orders over the phone at 309-434-2250.