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  A peek at an exhibition of poo
Updated 03 August 2004, 16.11
Turtle poo from Poo: A Natural History of the Unmentionable
Poo, poop, waste, faeces - you name it and it's at an exhibition at the Walter Rothschild Zoological Museum.

Clare Youell reports from Poo: A Natural History of the Unmentionable.


Rabbits and koalas eat their own poo.

And they're not alone - loads of animals do it.

That's just one of the many pleasing poo facts at this exhibition.

They do it, just so you know, because they can't get enough nutrients from their food the first time around. So they munch their waste and their body keeps all the good bits they need the second time around.

One of the  book illustrations by Neal Layton
Nice.

Poo: A History of the Unmentionable is positively bursting with this type of fact. Everywhere you look there's poo information, real poo, pictures of poo.

And it's not just about looking - you can have a good poke around too.

There's a display of real animal waste where you have to match the pellets to the creature which, er, passed them. Is it a badger that emits those big ones with straw in, or could it be a fox? Your guess is as good as mine...

There's some rather realistic-looking brown modelling clay too, where you can mould your own poos.

Smells bad

But the best bit of the whole exhibition is without doubt the 'smelling corners'. There's two pots of animal poo for you to stick your nose into, and you have to guess which creature made it. And one of them smells really bad!

Book author Nicola Davies with young fan, Cleo
The exhibition is based on a book of the same name by Nicola Davies - a former zoologist turned children's writer.

She explained why she wrote such a grossly-gripping book.

"When you're a zoologist there's no way you can avoid poo. Poo is a very useful tool to tell you about how animals live - where they go, what they do, what they eat and what they get up to.

Science is fun!

"I realised it was a subject children would find immediately appealing because it's got that 'yuk' factor. But there's stuff in this book and exhibition about animal behaviour, ecology, palaeontology and scientific method. All, I hope, communicated in a way that children can really relate to and enjoy - because science IS fun!"

Nicola said the feedback she's had so far suggests kids enjoy her book, which makes her very happy. "They like the fun facts, the 'gee whiz' stuff - they like the biggest, the smallest and the smelliest!" she said.

One of the  book illustrations by Neal Layton
Children at the exhibition certainly seemed to be enjoying themselves too.

Ellie, 9, from London, added: "It's absolutely great, it's good fun. My favourite bit is where you have to smell the poo and you don't know what kind it is - it smells nasty. I thought it was a rat poo but I'm not sure yet."

And Cleo and Ged, from Herts, had great fun trying to identify the animal poo and peering at the faeces with a giant magnifying glass.

Who would've thought poo could be so much fun?


The exhibition is on at the Walter Rothschild Zoological Museum in Tring, Hertfordshire, until Sunday 28 November 2004.

The book, called Poo: A Natural History of the Unmentionable, by Nicola Davies and illustrated by Neal Layton is on sale.

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