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Plants that are eaten by Zoo animals are collectively known as ‘browse'. Browse is collected by Zoo Horticulturists in the form of leaves, twigs and branches from various places including schools, suburban backyards, and specially developed plantations. Browse is collected by the truckload and kept in cold storage until required.

The animals of Taronga Zoo eat very similar foods to humans, including a variety of fresh fruit, meat, vegetables and grains. In addition to their prepared food, many animals require plant material.

There are two main categories of browse:

  • Dietary browse is provided to animals that will only eat a certain type of plant material. It is their primary source of food. For example, koalas will only eat fresh leaves from certain Eucalyptus trees. The red panda eats golden bamboo and the Glossy Black-cockatoo eats only the nuts from Casuarina trees
  • Behavioural enrichment means providing plant material or food that encourages natural behaviours such as foraging. Gorillas in the wild will spend a large part of their day grazing on leaves, buds and bark. Foliage is also used to make tools, nests/shelter and for playing. Some of their favourite foods include hibiscus, mulberry and banana. Bears, tigers, lions, snow leopards and jungle cats enjoy the stimulation that herbs provide or the activity of scratching large logs. Leadbeaters Possums and Platypuses are provided with stringy bark from Eucalypts to encourage nesting behaviour

What do we collect?

How much?

What for?

Edible leaves Between 140 - 280 branches/week Primates (such as chimpanzees, gorillas & orang-utans)
Eucalyptus leaves 450 branches/week Koalas - each koala receives three branches of varying Eucalypt species per day
Allocasuarina nuts 25,500 nuts/year Cockatoos such as the Glossy-black Cockatoo and the Gang-gang
Bamboo 100 stems/week Red pandas
Native plants (grevilleas, eucalypts, banksias) Blossoms Nectivorous mammals such as possums, gliders and native mice
Melaleuca (tea tree) Foliage Bush birds

All browse is recycled; the old branches from koalas are fed out to giraffes and kangaroos. After these animals have finished with it, it is mulched and used on Taronga Zoo's gardens.

Emma Schaefer, Manager, Environment and Sustainability