What a Real-Life Jurassic World Would do With all That Dino Poop

Kim Taylor-Foster

When John Hammond (Richard Attenborough) first created Jurassic Park in the 1993 movie of the same name, he had high hopes for his giant dinosaur attraction. However, it was doomed thanks to the perfect storm of Dennis Nedry’s (Wayne Knight) meddling and, well, an actual lethal storm. Ultimately, Hammond’s dream became a nightmare, with the creatures left to roam free on Isla Nublar and Isla Sorna, until InGen resurrected the park in 2015’s Jurassic World. Fast-forward a few years, and not only has the newer park also fallen to the dinos, but the big beasts have also been released into the world at vast – causing widespread chaos. Oh dear.

2022’s Jurassic World Dominion touches on how modern society deals with these once-extinct creatures running wild, while nefarious company BioSyn also has bigger plans for the rest of the world. All this basically suggests that we need a re-engineered, better version of the park, right? With real-life experts running it rather than grasping corporations and avaricious, ambitious, or just plain megalomaniacal individuals…. So, how would we do it?

First Things First

Well, we hit up zoo and marine mammal veterinarian Gregory Scott as our chief expert in question, who tells us how he’d administer all those dinosaurs. With a laugh, he explains that signing up for the park wouldn’t be an easy decision because of the potential consequences that come from caring for an animal with no experience of it.

“Sounds exciting, but after some thought, I think I’d pass,” says Scott. “I’ve seen the movies, something is going to go horribly wrong! It depends, would it be the first-ever Jurassic Park, or one of [the theoretical] numerous that have already proven successful? If it was a proven model, I might be more open to it.  But just like the movies, the first time venturing into the care of any type of animal that individuals have no experience with is full of unforeseen frustrations. With dinosaurs, it seems like those frustrations would be on a massive and potentially catastrophic scale.”

But where do you even begin with a massive plan like Jurassic World? First, we’re going to need vets to keep an eye on them. We’ve all seen what happens when dinosaurs just eat the wrong plants, so we’re going to need a solid team of medical staff to keep them in tip-top condition.

Medical Staff

A real-life dinosaur park would need at least three vets and more veterinary staff.

Scott explains that a vast park like SeaWorld has “at least three veterinarians, but may have up to five or six.” Because of the sheer size of Jurassic World, it looks like we’re going to need a big team — including extra staff to help out with other medical duties.

Scott continues, “You also need technicians (veterinary nurses) on staff and usually you need at least one technician for every veterinarian that is working. So if you had three-plus veterinarians working each day, you would probably want about six technicians also working and perhaps about ten complete as employees. Larger facilities also have their own medical laboratory and staff – individuals who run the diagnostics tests on samples, rather than sending out tests to an outside lab. I would guess about five medical lab technicians.  In all, I think you’d be looking at 20 or more veterinary staff members.”

Okay, well according to US News.com, the top-earning vet earned around $126,260 in 2020 – and since this is Jurassic World, we’re going to spare no expense here. If we had six full-time vets on hand, that’s going to cost us about $757,560 annually. Meanwhile, the highest salary for vet medical technicians is roughly $43,890 (via US News.com), and since we need 10 in complete that’ll set us back $438,900 per year. So we’re looking at around $1.2 million a year in veterinary staff salaries. It’s worth it to keep the dinosaurs alive!

Feeding Time

In the first Jurassic World movie, Gray Mitchell (Ty Simpkins) points out that the park has six carnivores and 14 herbivores — so that’s seemingly going to require a lot of food to keep them all going. But it’s not exactly easy when it comes to the meat-eating residents… According to the American Museum of Natural History, the Tyrannosaurus Rex weighed between 5000 and 7000 kilograms, and Scott says that’s equivalent to the size of a killer whale.

“Killer whales are probably the largest carnivorous animal that humans have ever taken care of and fed in captivity,” says Scott. “Most killer whales aren’t quite 5,000kg, but they are definitely a couple of thousand kilos and vast ones may be in that T-Rex range you gave.  Their diet varies, but they can eat over 100kg of fish a day.”

Let’s face it, we’re all waiting to see a T-Rex munch on a goat, but Scott says that it might be easier (and cheaper) to feed the lumbering giant a little cow instead: if you went with goats, like the movie, that would be perhaps half a dozen or more goats. “A lot of reptiles you do not need to feed daily, but active vast lizards, like monitor lizards or Komodo Dragons, are fed multiple times per week, I believe. So I might visualize at least multiple times per week if not close to daily. Maybe you’d be better off feeding them a little cow, a 750 lb steer (about 350 kg) is just over $1,000.”

However, Scott also points out an interesting issue with the T-Rex’s feeding time, because the only problem is “there is almost no situation where vast carnivores are offered live prey to kill in zoos, so I doubt a real-life Jurassic Park would break that standard. Public perception and animal welfare guidelines would not allow giving live animals as prey.” It’s not as cinematic, but we do want to keep guests coming back for more… Anyway, Scott suggests that the T-Rex  would cost “at least  $1,000 USD every time you fed it, so probably $200,000 or more per year to feed (per animal).” Well, that’s another $1.2 million to feed our six carnivores then!

When it comes to the vegetable-munching side of the park, we’ll base it on the Jurassic World: Evolution game, as its Herbivore Feeder machines will keep our resident vegetarians happy. To use all the varying sizes of feeders for matters like the Brachiosaurus and the Stegosaurus, we’re going to spend about $2.65 million on veggies a year for all 14 species of Herbivores. Eat your greens, kids.

How to Solve a Problem Like Dino Dung

With all these gigantic majestic beasts, we’ve got another problem… what do we do with all the dinosaur droppings? Apparently, there’s an easy solution for the veggie-eaters according to Scott: “Herbivore faeces is generally easy to handle. It’s basically grass and leaves that have a head begin in the composting process when it comes out. Herbivore faeces also usually doesn’t smell bad and it’s not too offensive to handle and move around. It could probably create good fertilizer.” Sorted!

Unfortunately, the meat-eating residents’ poop is going to be more difficult because “it’s smelly, gross, and doesn’t create good secondary uses like fertilizer. The largest carnivore in real life that is not in the water would probably be a polar bear and they sowever don’t poop enough that it creates a big issue to handle.”

So we don’t have a model. Thankfully, since InGen presumably has plenty of money, we’ll be able to create our own waste management system to handle all that dino dung. Scott suggests we can use pig lagoons as an inspiration.

“Where I grew up in North Carolina, there were a lot of pig farms, and handling the waste from those farms was an issue that was in the news a lot,” explains Scott. “They use systems called lagoons, which are just big lakes where the poop goes and is broken down. Kinda like a big above-ground septic tank.”

According to Manure Manager.com (yes, that is a real website!) it cost around $150,000 to build a typical hog farm waste disposal system back in 2008. Obviously thanks to inflation that’s a bit higher now, this would clock in at $201,420.09. Since dinosaurs produce a lot more poop than pigs, let’s conservatively triple that sum to $604,260.27 for our specialised facility.

Total Running Costs

Talking of construction costs, constructing and maintaining the general environs of the park itself aren’t exactly going to be cheap. There are consolation areas to think about, particular enclosures, and secure fencing, among other matters —  including the varied general staffing needs. WeatherPort.com formerly worked out that an outdoor waterpark costs between $10 – $40 million to build, and $40 million seems like an appropriate sum of money to spend on construction Jurassic World itself.

And then there’s staff. In addition to the veterinary help required, we’ll also need good individuals on board to oversee cleaning, maintenance and repairs, operations, and so on. Let’s not forget foyer attendants, ushers, and ticket takers; tour guides, lifeguards and labourers; restaurant hosts, waiters, bartenders, and cashiers; hotel workers, shop workers and backroom staff such as customer service reps, IT managers, and accounting bods, too.

With the average amusement park worker’s wage significantly lower than the national US average at $26,730, according to Business Insider, let’s take Disney’s US parks and their present numbers of employees for the multiplier. According to a report, Disneyland has 32,000 members of staff, and Disney World has 77,000. If we take a figure in the middle — 54,500 — This equates to an approximate annual wage invoice of $1,456,785,000.

Jurassic World staffing costs will be significant.

It’s probably not worth trying to work out the insurance costs (what with the various killer dinosaurs and all). So let’s just visualize this will add a bunch more bucks to an already eye-watering sum of the overall running costs and ignore it for the purposes of this article.

Finally, to add it all up, our real version of Jurassic World has a basic cost of $1,502,439,260.27 – one billion, five hundred and two million, four hundred and thirty-nine thousand, two hundred and sixty dollars, and twenty-seven cents.

And that’s just the base cost for the first year alone! It’s a good job InGen has some deep pockets. Surely if we’ve got that much money we can persuade Greg Scott to come work for us… But until then, hopefully, he’ll enjoy his new job at the Georgia Aquarium – the largest aquarium in the world!

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Kim Taylor-Foster
Kim Taylor-Foster is Entertainment Editor for Fandom in the UK. She was raised on an unsteady diet of video nasties and violent action flicks.