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Keeper Stories – Tuesday, May 16

Now that we are well on our way to summer, guess what time it is? That’s right, it’s browse time! Browse refers to non-toxic plant material that keepers or Horticulture cut for the primates on a daily basis. We have a list of plants that are safe for the primates to eat, play with, and use as habitat “furniture.”

During the wintertime, our department purchased fresh browse from Florida since Georgia’s plants are hibernating over winter. Now that spring and summer are here, you can find us out on Zoo grounds or behind the scenes cutting nice, fresh branches and leaves for the primates to enjoy!

The primates all enjoy their browse a little differently. Some like to just play with it, and others consume everything they can. The gorillas fall into that latter category. They will eat the leaves and strip the bark from the branches. We can always tell when we have given the gorillas a favorite item by how clean the branches are the next morning! Some of the favorite items include elm, mulberry, willow, banana leaves/trunks and eleagnus to name a few. Did you know that the pandas aren’t the only ones who like bamboo? Many of the primates enjoy it as well. Every part of bamboo is useable, from the leaves to the culm (stalk). Bamboo shoots are a seasonal favorite!

We are careful not to cut everything down in one spot. We do our best to rotate what we cut and when we cut it, so that our plants have a chance to regrow. Behind the scenes, we have a primate browse garden, and there are a number of other plants and trees in the back that we can trim from as well.
Kristina Krickbaum
Keeper II, Primates

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