In animal keeper language, browse means plants and vegetation that we offer to our animals. Several times a week we harvest freshly cut browse that has been approved by our veterinarians. Our veterinary specialist, Katy, put together a browse book that includes pictures of the plant/tree, who it is approved for and where on grounds it grows. This is a great asset for new keepers just learning to identify different vegetation and for seasoned keepers to make sure their knowledge is up to date. We only feed our animals browse that has been approved and never feed a plant we can’t identify.
Some of our animals are offered browse to eat. Our lemurs and all of our farmyard animals get browse to supplement their diet. A lot of our other animals such as the bears, wolves, gators and muskrats get browse as well but not necessarily to eat. Browse is a great way to encourage natural behaviors. Whether that behavior is natural foraging, nest building, sensory stimulation or adding variety to their physical environments.
There is a wide selection of native plants our animals can have and our horticulturist Bobbi Jo, who works in the Butterfly House, supplies us with garden grown herbs as well.
Browse is a very important part of our enrichment program. It has a lot of uses and can be enjoyed by a lot of our animals.