DECATUR, IL – Scovill Zoo, Ameren Illinois, and Wright Tree Service joined together Friday, Arbor Day, to mark the beginning of a new partnership aimed at bringing healthy snacks and natural enrichment to many of the animals that make their home at the zoo.
As part of the effort, Ameren Illinois and Wright Tree Service will now deliver truckloads of recently trimmed tree and shrub branches (“browse”) to Scovill Zoo. The browse is an enriching dietary component for camels, zebras, and monkeys. In addition to removing tartar from the animals' teeth and improving their dental health, browse encourages natural foraging behavior, provides mental enrichment through focused energy and activity, and adds healthy and fresh variety to their diets.
“This is an exciting day for Scovill Zoo,” said Director Ken Frye. “There are very few zoo/utility partnerships across the country, and Ameren Illinois’ generous commitment to deliver browse on a regular basis will help keep our animals happy and healthy.”
Ameren Illinois has more than 4,500 miles of transmission and distribution power lines across its Division 3 service territory, which includes Decatur. The company employs Wright Tree Service to trim tree branches and shrubs that may be growing too close to overhead power lines and other critical infrastructure. Excess branches are generally recycled or turned into mulch, but this new program will allow the animals to take care of the recycling, a beneficial solution for all.
“Vegetation management is critical to helping us prevent inadvertent outages,” said Ron Pate, Senior Vice President of Operations and Technical Services for Ameren Illinois. “Upon discovering that local browse is beneficial to animals, we jumped at the chance to partner with Scovill Zoo to provide this fresh, healthy food source. I’m excited to tell my grandkids that the power company is now helping to feed the animals.”
After a brief introduction and formal remarks, the kickoff event culminated with a browse feeding demonstration at the camel habitat.
About Scovill Zoo
Proudly accredited by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA), Scovill Zoo is home to 400 species spanning six continents, an Endangered Species Carousel, Z.O. & O. Express Train, community-built Project Playground, summer camps, adult volunteer opportunities, and mobile classroom programs. The zoo contributes to the education, enjoyment, and quality of life of residents and visitors from across the Midwest.
About Ameren Illinois
Ameren Illinois delivers energy to 1.2 million electric and 816,000 natural gas customers throughout central and southern Illinois. Our service territory covers more than 1,200 communities and 43,700 square miles and our mission is to power the quality of life. For more information, visit AmerenIllinois.com. Follow us on Twitter @AmerenIllinois and Facebook.