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Elephant poop makes money in Topeka – Could Tucson follow suit with coyote and javelina waste?

Scooping up elephant dung – or any poop – may not be the most glamorous job. Unless you happen to have some kind of fetish.

This baby's a money making machine/Ryn Gargulinski

But it can be an endeavor that leads to piles of money if we take a lesson from the Topeka Zoo.

This Kansas animal haven has started a project called My Pet Poo, which turns pachyderm poop into festive little dolls, geegaws and other brightly-painted gift items.

Some come affixed with beads and baubles while all of them come with a certificate of authenticity to insure what you’re getting is the real scoop.

Don’t worry – the poopy little gifts won’t leave nasty rings on your tables or shelving units. The elephant dung is first dried out for about 10 days then coated with an airtight acrylic paint, carefully layered on the poop by dedicated zoo volunteers, AOL News notes.

While volunteers paint the poo, they seemed to have drawn the line at molding the feces as one would mold Play Doh or clay. All figures are left in their natural state, usually roundish or dome-shaped.

A final layer of shellac tops off the process to insure the knickknack doesn’t crumble apart or stink.

These gorgeous gifties sell from $10 to $25 each at the zoo’s Leopard Spot Gift Shop or $35 online with shipping thrown in. Custom orders are welcome.

We bet these fine treasures are selling like hotcakes, or at least meadow muffins.

Wish someone would have mentioned this idea when I had a New Mexico yard full of five goats.

Since Tucson and so many other cities are in such dire budget straits, perhaps the same type of waste-to-riches theory could work in a variety of areas around the nation.

Fast cash for javelina scat?/File photo Tucson Citizen

The Topeka Zoo already debuted the elephant waste, so it would be best if each region had its own unique take on the recycled money machines.

Tucson’s coyote and javelina scat would be quite fetching as artwork, although the former is often littered with small bone chunks and the latter could be tough – or downright dangerous – to collect.

Javelinas have a bad reputation ever since a cornered one went after a Dutch tourist at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, ripping open the man’s arm, leg and causing permanent numbness, nerve and muscle damage.

Maybe we’ll stick to the coyotes.

New Mexico could have a heyday with the goats, as long as the artisans tend toward art that works well with pellet shapes. And imagine the very large possibilities from those grizzly bears in Colorado.

Turning dog doo into art could work anywhere. It would also give some dog owners the boost they need to properly clean up after their pets and instantly provide all those pooper scooper services with an automatic dual income.

Who’d a thunk a hunk of elephant dung in Topeka could spark such a grand idea – and maybe even a way to get the American economy out of the toilet once and for all.


Ryn Gargulinski is a poet, artist, performer and Ryngmaster who has made art out of fur and garbage, but never out of dryer lint or poo. Her column appears every Friday on Rynski’s Blogski. Her art, writing and more is at and E-mail

What do you think?

Is the My Pet Poo hilarious or disgusting – or both?

Did you ever have a pet rock?

What other strange things have you seen made into art or done with poo?

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The case of the duct taped coyote – Does anyone care about coyote abuse?

Tucsonan Joe Gardner was on one of his favorite day trips to Lochiel, about 100 miles southeast of Tucson, where the air is clean and the land pristine – usually.

Except when he finds a dead duct taped coyote.

Duct taped coyote/submitted photo
Duct taped coyote/submitted photo

During his trek about two weeks ago, the 62-year-old who grew up in the Lochiel area noted buzzards circling about and followed their feast to find a mutilated carcass.

The coyote was definitely dead, with a hole in his underside where something had chewed out his entrails. He had not been skinned, but the two front legs and two back legs had been secured with tape, leaving him defenseless, provided he had still been alive when taped.

“I was surprised and puzzled and wondered about mutilation stories I had heard in the past,” Gardner said, “but those involved livestock, not wild animals. I also wondered if it was some kind of sick message for human smugglers, who are also referred to as coyotes.”

He vaguely recalled stories of livestock’s organs and genitalia being removed with “precision-appearing incisions” some time back in Cochise County. Perhaps Jack the Ripper of the cattle world.

Yet he had never seen such abuse of coyotes.

Lochiel school house/submitted photo
Lochiel school house/submitted photo

“I have not an inkling as to who or why would bind a coyote and leave it out for the buzzards,” he said. “I was born and raised in the area, and as a matter of fact, this was right in front of the one room school I attended when I was a kid. I know just about everyone who lives in the area, and can’t imagine any locals doing this, as they live in the area because they love and respect the land.”

Nothing respectful about a duct taped coyote.

Arizona’s animal cruelty felony law, ARS 13-2910, slaps a felony on anyone that “intentionally, knowingly or recklessly inflicts unnecessary physical injury to any animal.”

Awesome law. But it may not apply in the case of the duct taped coyote.

“Law enforcement would have to successfully allege that it was cruelty,” explained Marsh Myers, spokesman for the Animal Cruelty Taskforce of Southern Arizona. “Since coyotes can be legally hunted, an investigation would have to rule this possibility out. Sometimes the animal is hunted and then the carcass is just left to rot. It’s a sloppy practice but it happens all the time.”

In that case, it’s OK.

Many hunters are respectful – even reverent – about nature and engage in the sport for much more than just the kill. But there are always the idiots.

In another coyote case earlier this year, six mutilated carcasses were found dumped in a creek near an Oklahoma high school.

The critters had been skinned, with their front legs chopped off at the knees and their remains unceremoniously hurled where teens could easily find them.

The animals were originally thought to be dogs and all hell broke loose. Necropsies revealed they had been a half dozen coyotes. Hell kind of subsided.

While Oklahoma, like Arizona, does have animal cruelty laws with severe penalties, it would probably not apply if the animals were being hunted for their fur.

Authorities in Ohio were going nuts in 2007 trying to find the sicko who apparently skinned and boiled a dog – while it was still alive.

The animal, identified by a vet as a chow/pit bull mix, was fully skinned except for fur left on its paws, had cuts on its legs and neck and had wire wound around one of the back legs.

Someone finally did come forward to confess – that the animal was not a dog at all but simply a coyote he hunted but didn’t dispose of properly.

Even though the vet had initially been wrong about the animal’s identification, calling it a dog, the doc was not wrong about the animal having been still alive when it was boiled and skinned.

No matter. It was just a coyote.

The case was immediately closed and all pending criminal charges promptly dropped.



Ryn Gargulinski is a poet, artist, performer and Ryngmaster who loves coyotes as much as she loves wolves but not as much as she loves her dogs. Her column appears every Friday on Rynski’s Blogski. Her art, writing and more is at E-mail


What do you think?

Is there a way to better enforce – or even prove – the animal cruelty felony law?

Can anything be done to better protect hunted wildlife from undue abuse?