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Trim to Treat: Benefiting Animals at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium and The Wilds

We’ve branched out to help support the animals at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium and The Wilds. Through our Trim to Treat partnership, some of the trees and branches our forestry crews regularly trim are donated and delivered to the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium and The Wilds.

The fresh tree trimmings, branches and twigs, also known as browse, are not only important to the animals’ diets, but also beneficial for enrichment. From the tallest to the smallest of animals, many will enjoy the benefits of this unique partnership — whether it’s a giraffe munching on some fresh leaves as part of its daily diet or a beaver chomping on a branch to help support dental health and its ever-growing teeth.

How Trim To Treat Works


Our forestry crews work hard to keep power lines clear of trees, because fallen trees and limbs are one of the top causes of power outages. At least every four years, crews assess the trees around our lines and equipment in neighborhoods and trim back or remove any threats. It’s all about keeping the power on.


Based on an approved list of non-toxic plant species from the Columbus Zoo, we identify and bundle some of the fresh tree trimmings, branches and twigs. Our team regularly delivers the trimmings by truckload to the Columbus Zoo and The Wilds.


A horticulturist at the Columbus Zoo and The Wilds inspects the tree trimmings to make sure they are safe for the animals and determines how much should be transported to each area within the Columbus Zoo and The Wilds.


The Animal Care staff at each location then delivers the tree trimmings for the animals to enjoy. Whether it’s used by a bird to build a nest or eaten by a kangaroo as a nutritious midday snack, the fresh browse will be put to good use.


The best part? The cycle continues — helping to keep your power on and providing an ongoing supply of browse for the animals.

Learn more about our forestry crews and their commitment to keeping your power on.


Browse are leaves, shoots and twigs of shrubs and trees used primarily as food for various animals at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium and The Wilds.

At the Columbus Zoo, there are many animal species that will benefit from the tree trimmings. This includes the colobus, langurs, tree kangaroos, giraffes, okapi, moose, bears, bettongs, binturong, bison, bonobos, deer (musk/tufted), elephants, gazelles (dama, slender-horned, Thomson’s), gibbons, goats, kangaroos, kudu, loris, mandrills, markhor, orangutans, prairie dogs, pronghorn, red river hogs, reindeer, siamangs, sheep, sloths, tortoises (along with many other species of herbivorous reptiles), vervets, warthogs, wildebeest, wombat, and zebras.

At The Wilds, the giraffes and Asian one-horn rhinos will primarily benefit from the tree trimmings. A variety of other deer and antelope will receive smaller amounts as enrichment.

Learn more about animals at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium.

Fresh, locally sourced browse offers many benefits to animals, including health, enrichment and nutrition. Below you’ll find just a few specific examples of how browse helps animals.

Adding tree trimmings to a habitat provides additional opportunities for enrichment as well— increasing activity levels and spurring mental stimulation with the power of choice. Species such as otters, feather tail gliders and hyenas can decide if they want to hide in/crawl through or simply scent mark plant material they receive. Birds, including macaws and lorikeets, use browse as a natural substrate to perch, manipulate, sharpen their beaks and build nests. Many avian species enjoy nothing more than spending countless hours shredding the tree trimmings.

Browse supports dental health for a wide variety of species, including rodents such as beavers, capybara and porcupines, with their continuously growing teeth.

The fresh tree trimmings also promote opportunities for animals to express their natural behaviors. Think about the amount of time a gorilla troop spends foraging together in their native habitat — taking the time to be together as a family stripping bark from branches, sharing a meal and then preparing nests to sleep.

Many animals will benefit from the fresh tree trimmings. For example, at the Columbus Zoo just one moose will enjoy approximately 980 linear feet of tree trimmings as part of its diet every week. At The Wilds, the giraffe herd will consume the majority of the browse delivered.

The Columbus Zoo and The Wilds have approved the following species of trees for the animals: ash, crabapple, elm, hackberry, mulberry, pear, sycamore and willow.

The tree trimmings for the Columbus Zoo are collected from the greater Columbus area and delivered twice per week. Trimmings for The Wilds are collected from the Zanesville and Cambridge areas and delivered as needed.

It’s a team effort. The forestry crews work to gather non-toxic plant species, while the Zoo and Wilds inspect the leaves and branches closely upon arrival to make sure they are safe for consumption.

At this time, we are not accepting tree donations to the Trim to Treat program. Our forestry crews work closely with the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium and The Wilds to determine approved species of trees and amount of browse needed for the animals. We are currently able to satisfy the need through our ongoing tree trimming maintenance program.


Email us at AEPOhioForestry@aep.com.

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