Help Us Feed the Animals!
Your tree & shrub trimmings might be delicious food for the animals.
Donations by Appointment
Every day the Sacramento Zoo feeds out pounds and pounds and bushels and bushels of browse. What’s browse? Non-toxic branches and leaves from specific species of trees and shrubs. This allows us to feed many of our critters - including the giraffes, chimps, lemurs and many birds - food that is exactly like what they would consume in the wild. They enjoy nibbling leaves, stripping bark, and chewing on stems to keep their brains busy and bellies full. It combines their favorite food with activities that they would naturally perform.
How can you help? Many of our neighbors trim their delicious trees on a regular basis and leave the piles for curb-side collection. But, if your tree is on our list, we can collect branches from your home – or even better, you can deliver to us! – and we will feed them out to our animals, rather than sending them to a landfill.
If you have a tree or shrub on the list below and will be trimming it soon, contact us by email or call (916) 808-5888. Check out our FAQs below for more details.
Edible Plant List
Orange & Lemon
Q: I don’t know what kind of tree I have, do you?
A: Possibly. Send a photo to our e-mail address and we can try and ID the tree. Unfortunately we do not have the time or staffing to make house calls to try and identify trees in person.
Q: Do I need to trim my tree a certain way?
A: We are looking for whole branches. Usually the way we feed trees out is by hanging branches up for the animals to consume – small chopped pieces are difficult for us to manage. If we are coming to your property to pick up limbs, we will bring tools to cut branches smaller if needed, so feel free to leave those limbs big!
Q: How much do I need to be trimming?
A: Sometimes even 3 or 4 big branches from a tree will make a great meal. If we are picking up from several locations in a day, we can grab smaller amounts from a few stops. If you are delivering to us, we’re happy to take even a few decent sized branches. When in doubt, send us an e-mail.
Q: Can you do the trimming for me so you get exactly what you are looking for?
A: Unfortunately, we cannot. We are not licensed tree trimmers and cannot take on the liability for either harming your tree or property damage that occurs as a result of falling branches. Likewise, all browse is collected and fed out by our Animal Keepers, and they do not have sufficient time in the day to trim.
Q: I use pesticides (organic or chemical) – will you be able to feed out my tree?
A: We cannot take any trees or plants that have been treated with a pesticide, even an organic one, as it may be harmful to the animals.
Q: I cut my tree last week and then saw you were looking for branches…it’s available but dry. Do you want it?
A: We are looking for fresh branches with the leaves still on.
Q: I trim my trees in winter, do you want the branches then?
A: If it is an evergreen species with the foliage still on, yes please! If they are just bare branches, unfortunately, we cannot use them.
Q: Will you take the whole tree/everything I trim?
A: We only use/feed out branches. We do not have a use for/place to dispose of tree trunks or large sections of limb. If you are cutting a whole tree we are quite happy to pick up as many branches with leaves as we can load (if you’re close by we can make a few trips) but we are not able to clean up and dispose of a whole tree and may not always be able to take everything you trim.
Q: I live in Roseville/Folsom/Rocklin, would love to help, and have a large tree to be trimmed. Will you pick it up?
A: As sad as it is to let a good tree go, we can only accept browse donations from within 5 miles of the Zoo. But if it is possible for you to deliver, we certainly welcome your donation!
Q: I’m here at your gate with a tree – come get it!
A: We ask that you please always contact us by email and wait for confirmation before bringing us a delivery. We appreciate your donation and want to make sure we have staff available to unload it.
Q: I contacted you about donating my tree and was told you could not use it, why?
A: There are several possible reasons we may not be able to accept a browse donation. Hopefully the staff member who responded to your e-mail explained our requirements. Your tree may have been turned down because it is not on our list – usually because it is toxic to our animals. There may also be occasions when we get so many trees donated that we simply cannot accommodate them all and have to turn donations away. Thank you for thinking of us and taking your time to try and help, we are sorry we could not accept your donation.
Q: If I deliver, do I get to see the animals eat my donation right then?
A: It takes us some time to process trees that are donated. They have to be sorted, cleaned and then delivered to the appropriate section of the zoo depending on which species of animals will be eating them. This means you will not be able to see your donation used right then or help us feed it out, but you can be certain that the only ones who appreciate your delivery more than our zookeepers are our very happy and well-fed animals – all thanks to you!
Q: Is there anything in it for me?
A: Tax deduction receipts are available upon request.