The plant, which will cost 2.3 million euros ($3 million), is expected to be operative in the spring of 2014.
Some of the energy produced will be used to keep gorillas and manatees — also known as sea cows — warm in their pens, and to heat the building that houses elephants in the winter, allowing a 40 percent saving on the gas bill.
The rest will be transformed into electricity and sold to French power giant EDF.
“This initiative is a perfect fit in the policy of sustainable development that we have been applying for a long time,” said Delphine Delord, spokeswoman for the zoo.
Pandas are an endangered species and only about 1,600 remain in the wild in China.
Some 300 others are in captivity worldwide — mostly in China, but also in 15 foreign zoos where they are sent as part of Beijing’s efforts to use soft power to boost its image, the so-called “panda diplomacy.”