Empowering Communities

Animals at the Zoo Love to Browse

September 20, 2016

This is the sixth-year anniversary of the ComEd/Chicago Zoological Society browse program, the first of its kind in the United States. Through the browse program, ComEd brings primates, carnivores, marsupials, and hoofed animals across Brookfield Zoo tasty and nutritious fare of tree trimmings during the summer. The zoo also freezes some of the browse so many of the animals can enjoy it throughout the year.

ComEd trims approximately 9,000 miles of tree lines along its transmission and distribution facilities in northern Illinois each year, an investment of more than $60 million annually to improve electric reliability and reduce power outages caused by tree contact with overhead wires. ComEd recycles 100 percent of these tree trimmings each year, including its donation to the zoo of approximately 50 cubic yards per week of approved plants and tree species.

Referred to as “browse,” the leaves, twigs, and branches from maple, willow, mulberry, and honey locust trees serve as food for the hungry zoo animals. Browse is a great source of nutrition for several species, including giraffes, gorillas, grizzly bears, kangaroos, okapi, rhinoceroses, camels, rock hyraxes, and tapirs.

The Zoo Browse program has saved the Chicago Zoological Society more than $1.25 million since 2011.