We’re doubling down on our commitment to provide browse to the Lehigh Valley Zoo now that it has doubled its Masai giraffe population.

We started providing browse to the zoo last year from tree trimming and clearing operations along our power lines. At that time, the zoo had just one giraffe — Murphy. In early December, the zoo acquired a second giraffe, Tatu.

Under a partnership between the utility and the zoo, Asplundh Inc., one of PPL’s tree contractors, is making deliveries of cut branches, also called browse, to help feed Murphy and Tatu.

The zoo appreciates the donations.  Masai giraffe can weigh over 2,500 pounds and eat 16-20 hours a day, so the contributions are certainly welcome.

Among all their nutritional choices, giraffes are particularly fond of browse. They receive a good portion of their water intake through the browse and lettuce that they eat and it is also an important enrichment. The zoo’s animal care staff will hang branches high up in the giraffe barn and entwine them through special feeders that keep the giraffes interested, active, and engaged.

There are also health benefits to eating browse. Giraffes, like cows, sheep, and goats, are ruminants and the browse helps their complex digestive systems run smoothly and efficiently.

PPL trims and removes trees along thousands of miles of its power lines each year to help maintain reliable service. Since trees are the top cause of storm-related power outages, the work is extremely important. Instead of ending up in a chipper, some of the smaller branches taken down in the Lehigh Valley area will provide nutrition for Murphy and Tatu.

“We love being part of this,” said Aaron Dom, manager of PPL’s vegetation management program. “When the giraffe population went from one to two, we were more than happy to provide the extra browse. It’s a great and offbeat way to show how much we care about the communities we serve.”

The vast majority of the kinds of trees trimmed by Asplundh for PPL can be used to feed the giraffes.