A wonderful example of our Zoo-wide Animal Wellness Initiative is the daily harvesting of browse materials for animals such as koalas, giraffes, rhinos, and many more. By continually supplying natural, home-grown branches and leaves, we can enrich the animals’ diets, stimulate their senses, and replicate how they would eat in the wild. Branches and leaves from eucalyptus, coprosma, acacia, bamboo, and other trees and shrubs are provided to our animals every day. Look carefully and you will frequently see the animals enjoying their fresh browse.
Our most significant browsers are the koalas. Since these picky marsupials need three varieties of fresh eucalyptus daily, meeting their needs requires daily cutting of 120 to 160 branches, each four to five feet long. Past the koala exhibit, on the way to the Australian WalkAbout, you will find our growing Eucalyptus Grove browse garden with red ironbark, bangalay, yellow gum, and river red gum. These Australian natives take to our climate very easily and their fallen leaves inhibit other plants from growing underneath, so they often grow as a “monoculture,” without other species. Eucalyptus trees soak up large amounts of water and have been used to help drain swampy areas, helping to eliminate mosquito breeding areas. Although this small garden will only be harvested two or three times a year, it demonstrates the diverse diet of our koalas.