The zoo has planned a highly interactive exhibit allowing visitors to be completely immersed in animals’ pooh.

So do you think you love animals? Well, as many motown songs have attested, true love means appreciating both the good and less-appealing aspects about something. It’s one thing to have a picture of elephants on your computer desktop; it’s another to take a big whiff of their pooh and caress it in your arms.

To help people achieve this ultimate intimacy with some of their favorite beasts, Tokuyama Zoo in Yamaguchi Prefecture is holding their first ever Unkoten (Poop Exhibit) from 22 July to 31 August. This exhibit will display the excrement of several of the zoo’s animals along with other special displays and events.

Among them will be the opportunity to touch an elephant’s bowel movement. Of course, because of health concerns, the poop is dried, disinfected, and coated with a varnish making it safe and odorless, so you don’t have to take the aroma home with you.

There are smelling displays available as well where you can sample the scents of 13 different creatures including tigers, giraffes, and even African spurred tortoises. Each animal’s pooh is given an odor ranking from 1 (least smelly) to 5 (most smelly). Carnivores such as tigers are said to have the highest smell scores, whereas the Japanese giant flying squirrels ranked the least smelly.

However, word has it that the highlight of the event is the poop of the red panda (better known as the “lesser panda” in Japan). According to a zoo spokesperson, their feces actually smell very pleasant thanks to their diet of bamboo that is only partially digested. I imagine it smells something like a brand new rattan chair.

▼ Cute and pleasant-smelling poop to boot.
We should all aspire to be lesser pandas.

And that’s not all! During two weekends in August you can make your very own piece of elephant dung out of paper. “Must see” petrified poop will also be out on display, and there will even be an occasional appearance by a “giant turd” mascot.

Oh, and dung beetles? You bet!

It’s certainly a “shit show” par excellence, and the excitement online is palpable.

“What is this…?”
“I was cool with going to see, but touching….”
“Well, the kids do like poop.”
“This is one of the weirder fads Japan has gone through.”

The last comment is referring to the craze started by the Unko Kanji Drills (Poop Kanji Drills) line of writing textbooks that has blossomed into a media force.

However this isn’t the first time Tokuyama Zoo has gotten down and dirty. In previous years they hosted an “ugly animal” exhibit and last year’s cockroach event turned a lot of heads… and then turned them right back the other way in disgust.

This time they are expecting an increase of 30,000 visitors for Unkoten, which seems rather optimistic. But it would be great if they do get it, so more people can come to appreciate the important role feces play as a window in the health of all living things.

Source: Tokuyama Zoo, Livedoor News, Hachima Kiko
Images: @Press