How your home landscaping can help feed animals at Fresno Chaffee Zoo

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) — It’s breakfast time for Amahle, Musi, and Nolwazi at the Fresno Chaffee Zoo.

The elephants can be found feeding in the African Adventure area, but what they’re munching on is plant life that’s much closer to home than you might think.

“Seven species that are commonly found throughout Fresno, whether you’re trimming it in your backyard or you have a landscaper come in and help you care for your yard, all of these species are readily available and often, this material ends up going to the dump,” says general curator Lyn Myers.

Myers says the zoo is hoping to partner with the public, asking that you repurpose those branches and shrubs and turn them into a treat for the animals.

Typically, the herbivores eat hays, grasses and pellets filled with all of the nutrients they need, but the homegrown bits of certain shurbs and trees known as “browse” has mental and physical benefits.

“Not only is it sometimes a delicacy, something they don’t get very often, it’s really important for them to rip, shred and use those behaviors they would naturally use out in the wild,” Myers said.

Whether they’re eating it or making beds out of it, roughly 20-30 species of animals living in the zoo would benefit from the Browse Program.

Of the seven types, the most identifiable and often used for shade are bamboo, chinese elm, pistache and mulberry.

Orundo grass is invasive and can be found as background landscape or in wetter areas.

Xylasma is commonly used for screening in back yards…

A fan favorite at the zoo — carub tree.

“The new growth sometimes has the really red, kind of maroon stem and sometimes, the leaves are a different color and more glossy than the adult leaves,” Myers said.

You or your landscaper can drop off your contributions, free of charge, on the east side of the zoo. Just take the road inside the park toward Golden State Boulevard.

The area is marked off by a sign that reads “approved browse area,” where trained staff will sort through all donations.

“They could eat as much as you bring,” Myers said. “If we got a large pickup truck a day, we would be in heaven.”

Dropping off at the zoo is the preferred method but if you call ahead, they can work with you to try to pick up your Browse donation.

For more information, visit the zoo’s website.

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