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New Richmond Pooseum in Tasmania on a mission to educate visitors about poop

James Kitto, August 9, 2018 7:00PM Mercury

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Karin Koch has opened a new science museum in Richmond that is dedicated to animal dung. Picture: Mathew Farrell media_cameraKarin Koch has opened a new science museum in Richmond that is dedicated to animal dung. Picture: Mathew Farrell

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The subject of animal poop just got serious.

The Richmond Pooseum in Tasmania, despite its strange subject, is on a mission to educate visitors about the curious world of animal droppings.

The Pooseum, which opened last month, was set up by Karin Koch and has a range of information panels and interactive displays unveiling faeces* facts.

Karin Koch has opened a new science museum in Richmond that is dedicated to animal dung. Picture: Mathew Farrell media_cameraKarin Koch has opened a new science museum in Richmond that is dedicated to animal dung. Picture: Mathew Farrell

Dehydrated* droppings from Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary are displayed for visitors to test their knowledge and guess which animals made each one.

Ms Koch first came up with the idea for what’s possibly Australia’s only dedicated* dung museum after her introduction to animal droppings while bushwalking turned into a fascination.

The former event organiser from Austria said she hoped the Pooseum could help end the taboo* surrounding poo and open people’s eyes to the science behind it.

“It’s much easier for people to talk about animal poo, but I think it’s really important for humans to learn of the science behind their own excrement*,” she said.

Karin Koch with some of the displays. media_cameraKarin Koch with some of the displays.

“There’s a lot to be learned from droppings*. The museum is here as a serious way to teach people the science behind dung. There are many fascinations to be learned, such as how poo can be used for producing energy and creating biogas*.”

Italy and the Isle of Wight in the UK also have pooseums.

A pile of animal poo. media_cameraA pile of animal poo.

WHAT CAN YOU LEARN FROM ANIMAL POO?

Animal poos (scats) come in lots of different shapes and sizes. Each animal species produces its own unique type of dung.

You can, therefore, discover which species are present in an area (and how many there are) by looking at what they leave behind.

The size of a poop can also give you an idea of the age and size of the animal that left it. Sometimes, it’s even possible to determine if the animal is male or female and whether it’s likely to be able to breed (by the smell). It can also reveal the diet and overall health of the species.

We loved this video of a dung beetle who never gives up. We hope you love it, too.

GLOSSARY

faeces: poo

dehydrated: dried

dedicated: specialised

dung: poo

taboo: something that is forbidden or not talked about

excrement: poo

dropping: poo

biogas: gaseous fuel, especially methane, produced by organic matter

LISTEN TO TODAY’S STORY

QUICK QUIZ

1. Where do the droppings in the Pooseum come from?

2. What was Karin Koch’s previous job?

3. What are scats?

4. What can the smell of animal poop sometimes tell you?

5. Where are two other Pooseums in the world?

CLASSROOM ACTIVITIES

1. Whose poop is that?

The article outlines some reasons why learning about animal scat could be beneficial.

Make a list of these reasons and think of situations or careers where this knowledge could be helpful.

Time: Allow 20 minutes

Curriculum links: English, Science

2. Extension: Create a new ‘Welcome’ sign for this Pooseum. Your sign needs to have a logo/image and include a brief (one or two sentence) statement that highlights what visitors can expect to see.

Your sign can be a little bit cheeky but not use inappropriate language or imagery.

Time: Allow 30 minutes

Curriculum links: English, The Arts – Visual Arts, Science

VCOP ACTIVITY

After reading the article, with a partner, highlight all the openers you can find in blue. Discuss if they are powerful and varied openers or not. Why do you think the journalists has used a mix of simple and power openers? Would you change any, and why?

HAVE YOUR SAY: Would you visit a Pooseum? Why or why not?

No one-word answers. Use full sentences to explain your thinking.

Extra Reading in science