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ComEd Tree Trimmings Make A Tasty Treat For Zoo Animals

Western grey kangaroos at Brookfield Zoo’s Australia House getting a tasty treat thanks to a new browse program between the zoo and ComEd. Browse is branches, twigs and leaves from trees and shrubs. (Photo Courtesy Chicago Zoological Society)

Western grey kangaroos at Brookfield Zoo’s Australia House getting a tasty treat thanks to a new browse program between the zoo and ComEd. Browse is branches, twigs and leaves from trees and shrubs. (Photo Courtesy Chicago Zoological Society)

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BROOKFIELD, Ill. (WBBM) – ComEd’s tree-trimming operations have been providing what some might consider an unlikely benefit to the animals at the Brookfield Zoo.

As WBBM Newsradio 780′s Mike Krauser reports, ComEd as been providing browse – leaves, twigs and branches from trees and shrubs – to many of the zoo’s animals as food.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Mike Krauser reports

Birch branches were wedged into trees in the zoo’s gorilla habitat on Tuesday.

Nutritionist Jennifer Watts said the apes will grab the branches and strip off the leaves to eat.

“The thing is that browse is one of the best things that we can do for the animals because it’s most like their natural foraging,” Watts said. “Fresh browse is a natural method for promoting the animals‘ gastrointestinal and dental health, but it is also a great way to provide enrichment to the animals.”

Each week, ComEd – whichh is one of the zoo’s sponsors – delivers 40 to 50 cubic yards of browse to the zoo. The browse comes from trees that are trimmed along power lines throughout the Chicago area.

Craig Chesley, ComEd’s vegetation management manager, said it’s gratifying to provide the branches to the animals.

“It feels really good to see something more than just mulch on a garden bed,” he said.

The foliage makes for tasty treats for the animals, including gorillas, other apes, giraffes, bears, rhinos, kangaroos, fruit bats and others.

Most animals eat the leaves, while some go as far as stripping off the bark for food. Others use it for body massages, while some – such as African wild dogs – just play with the branches.