BLOOMINGTON, Ill. – The Christmas ornaments for sale at the Miller Park Zoo's gift shop are partly manufactured by reindeer. Honest!
Staffers make decorations out of droppings from the zoo's two reindeer, Ealu and Rika. The droppings are dried, then clear-coated and either painted or rolled in glitter.
Zoo marketing director Susie Ohley has named the products "magical reindeer gem ornaments," and each comes with a label of authenticity. They cost $5 at the zoo gift shop.
Staffer Katie Buydos, who makes jewelry as a hobby, donated wire and beads, saying, "Susie asked me to bring some creativity to the table."
Some folks are surprised at the size of the "gems," which are only about as big as marbles.
"Reindeer are so big," zoo maintenance worker Sheldon Williams said. But the droppings are "just a big pile of small."