It’s not every day you can both power a zoo and also help power an animal in the zoo, but that’s the case with a unique partnership between PPL Electric Utilities and the Lehigh Valley Zoo.

And that partnership intersects with reliable electric service, because it’s our vegetation management program that’s providing food for Murphy, the zoo’s 16-year-old Masai giraffe.

Some of the smaller branches that normally would end up in a chipper during our vegetation management work are instead brought here to the zoo to help feed Murphy. Jaflo Inc., our vegetation management contractor in the Lehigh Valley region, delivers the branches and leaves, also called browse, to the zoo as needed.

Trees are the number one cause of storm-related power outages. So, we have a comprehensive program to regularly trim or remove trees along power lines to help keep electric service reliable.

Aaron Dom, manager of our vegetation management program, said the idea to help the zoo first came from Wayne Grim, a PPL Electric Utilities construction supervisor who also sits on the zoo’s board of directors.

We joined the zoo at a news conference Thursday (10/12) at the zoo to announce the initiative.

“Being part of the community is about more than delivering safe, reliable power,” said Carol Obando-Derstine, our regional affairs director. “It’s a about making a difference in many ways. Sometimes those are unique, off-beat ways. In this case we’re making a difference for Murphy.”

The browse being provided for Murphy is just one part of his diet, according to zoo officials. But the deliveries save the zoo time and money.

“This zoo is one of the places that make the Lehigh Valley so special,” Obando-Derstine said. “We and Jaflo feel great that we can help. At PPL, we say our customers depend on us and we deliver. In this case, that’s true in more ways than one.”