Trees a top treat at zoo

Giraffes feeding on the Taylors Lakes Willow at Melbourne Zoo. Pic Marco De Luca

Giraffes, elephants and orangutans have been filling up with a special snack from Taylors Lakes.

Melbourne Water removed two large willow trees from the Lake Shelduck retarding basin last week and passed them on to Melbourne Zoo for use as food.

Melbourne Water project manager Elmo Tharmaseelan said the zoo worked closely with the team during the removal process.

“We were thrilled to learn that these trees were suitable for the zoo and it’s great to know they are going to provide a source of food for the animals,” Mr Tharmaseelan said.

“We had a representative from Melbourne Zoo on site the entire time we were removing the trees to ensure that everything was done correctly for the animals.

“We have been able to provide a total of approximately six tonnes of snack material for them, which is a great result.

“This is the second time Melbourne Water has identified that it had suitable material to donate to the zoo and we will be looking for further opportunities to make donations like this in the future.

“The roots of the willow trees were growing directly into the weir, and as a result our retarding basin upgrade works couldn’t proceed without removing them,” he said.

“These upgrade works are necessary to ensure the retarding basin continues to operate safely and protect the local community from flooding.”

Melbourne Zoo life science manager Adrian Howard said the “fresh browse” provided important nutritional and enrichment components for a number of Zoos Victoria animals.

“These include elephants, giraffes, tortoises, tapirs, orangutans, gorillas, lemurs, baboons, gibbons, reptiles, tree kangaroos and hippos,” he said. “Zoos Victoria operates a specialised plantation at Werribee Open Range Zoo, which consists of 16 tree species totalling 9000 trees.

“However donations still make up approximately 40 to 50 per cent of annual browsing food used at Melbourne Zoo and we are always grateful for suitable materials.”