18 July 2011

Leafy branches are at the top of the treat list for Asian Elephants! They have large appetites and spend a good portion of every day grazing on various kinds of vegetation. 

Adults eat large quantities of hay and lucerne as their basic diet. They're also fond of pears and apples, pumpkin, carrot, broccoli and sweet potatoes, watermelon, bananas and dates!

Leafy branches rank right up there among their favourite foods, and adults can browse their way through 12 long branches a day.

The Zoo's horticulturists provide branches for the elephants, and other herbivorous species, but because the elephants enjoy branches so much the Zoo could use some help from the community in providing more browse for them.

So the Zoo is asking readers planning to prune or remove some of the plants in their home gardens to invite Zoo horticulturists to come out to cut and collect the greenery and bring the freshly cut branches back to the Zoo.

Elephant Keeper Erin Ballagh says the elephants' favourite browse species are:

Bamboo, Acacia, Coprosma (mirror bush), Wattle, Ficus, Sugar Cane, Banana Palm, Ginger lily, Elm, Elephant grass, Pencil pine, Poplar, Willow, Maple, Ash, and fruit trees such as apple, pear, and cherry.

It's important to be sure that any donated branches haven't been sprayed with any gardening chemicals. Zoo horticulturists will need to be able to easily access the area where the plants are growing. They cut and collect browse on Tuesdays and Fridays.

Anyone who would like to donate leafy branches can call 9285 9300 to leave their contact details.

A horticulturist will call back to follow up and ensure that the trees are one of the species that makes them eligible to become elephant snacks.

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