SACRAMENTO (AP) — California’s Sacramento Zoo is urging homeowners to think of their tree trimmings and other yard waste as a potential meal for its animals.
Zoo officials have been placing door hangers in some neighborhoods asking for donations of clippings from trees and shrubs that various animals, including giraffes and zebras, find tasty, the Sacramento Bee reported on Tuesday. Officials want to supplement the trimmings from trees on zoo property.
“We hope that it will take off so that donations can provide what we need instead of cutting on zoo property,” said Melissa McCartney, primary keeper of ungulate stock at the Sacramento Zoo. “The tree trimmings we need to provide the animals are more than what we can get.”
McCartney said branches are better for the animals than food pellets because they also give them something to do.
The sitatunga, a marsh dweller from central Africa, for example, plays with his food.
“He likes the elm and mulberry, and after he strips all the leaves off, he likes to fight the branch with his horns,” said McCartney. “He gets the most enjoyment out of it.”
The list of desired plants includes many that are common in Sacramento, such as ash, bamboo and cottonwood.
The plants must not be treated with pesticide, and must be free of disease. There are also some trees and shrubs that are toxic to animals. That list includes oleander, oak, camphor and most pines.
At least 40 animals at the zoo receive trees and shrubs each day, though giraffes get the most. An adult giraffe can consume 75 to 100 pounds of leaves a day. The zoo has five giraffes.