KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Zoo Knoxville wants your tree trimmings. Why? To help feed their animals.

The zoo is asking for donated tree “browse” that the giraffes and elephants can snack on. These animals spend about 18 hours a day eating and the zoo wants to make sure they have their favorite foods.

The animals both love branches, twigs and tender shoots. So, if you are already clearing your yard out, you can help the zoo out by donating the trimmings.

“Their main diet in the wild is tree branches, they’re called browsers and so in the winter time when the leaves come off the branches, they’ll still eat the branches. They’ll strip the bark and if the branches are thin enough they’ll chew that up and eat that as well,” said Petty Grieve with Zoo Knoxville. “It’s very good for their digestive tract actually, so we also are supplementing their diet all year round with hay and grain, so we make sure they have a very balanced diet, but their favorite things are branches.”

Not all trees are safe for animals to chew on, but a lot of the common trees in East Tennessee are acceptable. The zoo shared a list of trees that can be safely eaten by giraffes and elephants:

  • Bradford Pear
  • Sugar Maple
  • Silver Maple
  • Mulberry
  • Chestnut Oak
  • White oak
  • Hickory
  • Eastern Redbud
  • River birch
  • Box Elder
  • Elm
  • Hackberry
  • Honey Suckle (Not in Berry because they are toxic)
  • Mimosa
  • Grape Vine
  • Willow
  • Tulip Poplar

To donate the tree “browse,” contact the zoo at (865) 637-5331 ext. 1280 or to set up a time to deliver the trimmings. For that information, visit