Zoo Knoxville asking for cut trees, shrub donations to feed giraffes

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Dozens of pounds of food a day: that’s how much the giraffes over at Zoo Knoxville eat. It’s also why the zoo is asking you to donate any trees or shrubs you’ve cut.

Chomping down on a mid-afternoon snack, Jumbe enjoys one of his favorites: mimosa tree. The treat was donated Sunday morning.

“It’s critical to the giraffe program that they have browse available, and if we have the help of the community to do that, it opens us to do a lot more work just taking care of the giraffe,” said Zookeeper Brock Patton.

Bradford pear… dogwood… honeysuckle… If you’ve got it, they’ll take it, as long as it hasn’t been sprayed with pesticides.

“Currently we’re doing a lot of shifting due to the giraffe calf. The giraffe are learning a new routine to accomodate it, and in order to make that happen, we need a lot of browse – or enrichment – to kind of make them happy to do all the shifting and training we need them to do,” Patton said.

The extra shrubs and cuts are needed because these giraffes go through a lot. Jumbe eats somewhere between 50 and 60 pounds of food a day. The females eat about 30 to 40 pounds.

“If you enjoy the zoo and like to support the zoo, you might find that this is a really convenient way to do that. Bringing browse to us is the equivalent of making like a financial donation. It helps us out a lot, it saves us time, and it allows us to keep these animals in a healthy manner,” Patton said.

Anyone wanting to drop off trees and shrubs is asked to call (865) 637-5331 ahead of time. They can take deliveries from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The zoo says their animals prefer the following varieties:

  • Bradford pear
  • Dogwood
  • Hackberry
  • Sugar maple
  • Silver maple
  • Elm
  • Mulberry
  • Chestnut oak
  • Red oak
  • Hickory
  • Eastern redbud
  • River birch
  • Hemlock tree
  • Box elder
  • Mimosa
  • Honeysuckle (not in berry)

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