NEW Zoo and ATC Partner to Provide Fresh Tree Trimmings to Animals
American Transmission Co.’s vegetation management program helps maintain a safe and reliable electric grid for homes and businesses in Wisconsin. Recently, vegetation removed from the electric transmission rights-of-way under the direction of ATC’s certified utility arborists became part of the menu for animals at the Northeastern Wisconsin Zoo & Adventure Park in Green Bay, Wis.
“Trees can compromise safety or cause interruptions in electric service if adequate clearances are not maintained,” said Michelle Stokes, vegetation management manager at ATC. “By partnering with the NEW Zoo, we are finding a use for the tree trimmings to enhance the animals’ diets and quality of life, while also providing a better visitor experience.”
After ATC and our contractor, Asplundh Tree Expert LLC, delivered a load of fresh, safe and approved tree trimmings to the NEW Zoo, volunteers carefully prepped a selection of leaves for the popular daily Giraffe Feeding Experience. Another portion of the browse was placed inside the giraffe habitat for resident giraffes Zuri and Nigel to enjoy “straight from the branch.” The NEW Zoo’s bison, elk, moose, prairie dogs, pronghorn, white-tailed deer, and domestic goats also received fresh browse. While the penguins don’t eat browse, they received a few branches to play with and to use for their nests.
Browse – plant material cut for consumption or enrichment – is a crucial element in some animals’ diets because it’s full of nutrition that some herbivores need (e.g., proteins, fats, and amino acids). It also promotes natural behaviors – such as nibbling leaves, stripping bark, and chewing on stems – and helps prevent animals from eating the vegetation that grows within their habitats.
“Animals both small and tall are fed the browse, which is spread throughout their habitats to encourage natural foraging behaviors. Zoo visitors who observe this also experience more natural animal behavior,” said Carmen Murach, curator of animals at the NEW Zoo. “Because we don’t have a walk-in refrigerator to store browse, we rely on our zookeepers to cut fresh browse from our own forest when they have time or on deliveries like this one from ATC.”
The NEW Zoo & Adventure Park is located 10 miles northwest of downtown Green Bay, within the Brown County Reforestation Camp and the Brown County Parks System. The NEW Zoo & Adventure Park and Brown County Reforestation Camp together function as a 1,560-acre recreational area serving over a half-million visitors each year. The NEW Zoo is one of only seven Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA) accredited zoos in the country that does not receive local or regional tax support for the zoo’s annual operating budget.