Unique partnership between Zoo Atlanta, Georgia Power is 'ultimate recycling'

A partnership between Zoo Atlanta and Georgia Power is solving two problems at once.

Routine pruning near power lines is making meals for many of the animals at Atlanta’s zoo.  Instead of the chipper, trees and branches and other vegetation are being fed to the elephants, giraffes, gorillas, and monkeys.

"We are taking something that would otherwise be disposed of and thinking of a new, better way to use it," Georgia Power spokesperson Kelly Richardson explained.

The material is called browse, and it’s something Georgia Power workers started providing in 2018.

Many animals supplement their diet with browse. Elephants can eat a truckload of the stuff a day, and they love to chow down on local leaves.

Company arborists coordinate the pickup of trimmings twice a day, four times a week, with zoo horticulturalists.

"Animals are eating every bit of it. They're stripping off the bark and eating all the leaves. So nothing goes to waste," horticulturist Hal O’Kelly said.

Zoo Atlanta partners with Atlanta parks and local tree services as well, but their team-up with Georgia Power is special, they say, as it is a steady, consistent provider.

They say they hope to have a donation page on their website one day for property owners who also want to help.