Media Line:

Henry Vilas Zoo and ATC partner to improve animal habitat

Posted on November 10, 2022

PEWAUKEE, Wis. – Animals at the Henry Vilas Zoo recently received a donation of roughly 10 logs and stumps for enrichment purposes, courtesy of American Transmission Co., Asplundh Tree Expert LLC, and some village of Oregon property owners.

“We are so grateful to ATC, and their contractor Asplundh, for bringing their specialized equipment and staff to the Zoo to place these huge logs and stumps in some of our animal exhibits,” said Beth Petersen, general curator of animals at the Henry Vilas Zoo. “As a free zoo, it is vital for us to have strong community partnerships like these that have an immediate benefit to animal welfare.”

The logs and tree stumps will allow seven animal species to engage in natural behaviors and encourage them to be more active. This type of enrichment helps to satisfy the animals’ physical and psychological needs.

  • Harmon the white rhinoceros loves logs! He will lift, push and play with two long tree trunks placed in his enclosure
  • Eddie the reticulated giraffe got a large stump to provide some variety in his habitat
  • Altain the Bactrian camel received a large stump to use as a scratching post
  • The Zoo’s herd of goats got a new large tree stump to climb on
  • Farah and Luana, critically endangered Somali wild asses, received two stumps to add some new features in their space
  • Flora, Fauna and Claude, the North American porcupines, will use the two large stumps to climb and rest on
  • Ash and Lexi, the grizzly bears, will get their three tree stumps in the spring after they wake up from torpor, which they may use to sharpen their claws or dig for insects

The maple, spruce and willow trees were removed from several properties in Oregon, Wis., and donated to the zoo with the property owners’ permission.

“Trees can compromise safety or cause interruptions in electric service if adequate clearances are not maintained,” said Michelle Stokes, director of field services at ATC. “By partnering with the Vilas Zoo, we are finding a use for the trees to enhance the animals’ quality of life, while also providing a better visitor experience.”

ATC’s vegetation management program helps maintain a safe and reliable electric grid for homes and businesses in Wisconsin. The trees were removed from the electric transmission right-of-way under the direction of ATC’s certified utility arborists. ATC’s easement rights generally give the public utility the right to remove vegetation in the transmission right-of-way.

Utilities that operate high-voltage transmission lines are required by the North American Electric Reliability Corporation to establish and follow a vegetation management program that helps eliminate any safety and reliability issues of their high-voltage transmission lines.

Note to editors: Video footage of the tree delivery and placement into the animals’ habitats can be found on our YouTube page. If you are interested in photos or b-roll, please send a request to More information about ATC’s vegetation management practices can be found here.

# # #

ATC is a Wisconsin-based company that moves energy along the regional electric grid in parts of Wisconsin, Michigan, Minnesota and Illinois, serving more than 5 million electric consumers. We are experts at what we do: planning, maintaining, operating and protecting the grid. As the electric industry moves toward renewable generation sources, we are transforming our system to continue delivering energy reliably and safely. We proudly support STEM education programs that empower youth with the skills needed to succeed in tomorrow’s energy workforce. For more information, visit