There's no more enchanting sight during the snowy weeks leading up to Christmas than that of the majestic reindeer--delighting the fancy of children who long for a just a peek at one of the creatures that make up Santa's fabled team. Perhaps you've heard the tapping of their hooves on the shingled roof, or the faint ringing of their collar-bells as they shook off the cold on Christmas eves of yore. For those who still dream of reindeer, like the ones that so eluded them in childhood, Miller Park Zoo created "Magical Reindeer Gem" necklaces and ornaments. What is a "Magical Reindeer Gem," you ask?
Oh, it's reindeer poop.The zoo, owned by the city of Bloomington, IL, began selling the reindeer jewelry and decorations last year and discovered they were so popular, they've decided to make it a yearly tradition. This year, the zoo produced around 300 necklaces and 2,000 ornaments--but the zoo's gift shop was all sold out last Sunday. All told, the zoo brought in $20,884 from the excrement-based creations.
The droppings, which are the size and shape of a large brown, marble, are dehydrated, sanitized in an autoclave machine, painted and drilled. Each piece is handmade, crafted by zoo volunteers--and of course, the zoo's resident reindeers.
According to the Illinois Farm Bureau, the idea for the "gems" comes from retired Miller Park Zoo Superintendent, John Tobias:
John's grandmother use to gather her grandchildren and take them outside on Christmas Eve to scatter homemade chocolate chips. She would tell the children that the chips would attract Santa and his reindeer to their home, because the reindeer would know that other reindeer had already visited and left droppings.
Although the zoo is fresh out of "Magical Reindeer Gems" this season, word has it that the reindeer end of production is still in operation. No word yet on the possibility of "Magical Elephant Gems" though--you know, for those of us who like a bit more 'bling'.