Weeds become tasty treat for Melbourne's favourites

Giraffe at Melbourne Zoo

Elephants, giraffes and gorillas are among the many animals at Melbourne Zoo enjoying a snack made up of foliage removed as part of weed removal works.

Tree limbs and branches removed from Merri Creek by Melbourne Water have been donated to the zoo after it was identified that the material would be suitable for certain animals to snack on.

A seven-tonne excavator was used to load a truck full of the greenery after a Melbourne Water staff member recognised the potential for removed weeds and tree species to feed animals.

Melbourne Zoo coordinates donations from Parks Victoria, local councils, a number of schools and arbor companies. These donations make up approximately 40 to 50 per cent of the snack food for animals at the zoo. 

Woody feeding material must meet strict standards to ensure its suitability for the animals. This includes ensuring only correct trees of appropriate species and age are selected, monitoring how these plants are removed and stored, and confirming that no pesticides have been used on them.

Common plant species suitable for zoo animals include willow, elm, apple and bamboo. Animals enjoying the woody weed snacks at the zoo include elephants, giraffes, tortoises, bongo tapirs, orangutans, gorillas, lemurs, baboons, gibbons, reptiles, tree kangaroos and hippos.

You can find out more about the program here.