The City of Bloomington is launching a pilot program with the Indianapolis Zoo that will allow residents to donate invasive and undesirable plants on their properties to the zoo to use for animal food.
Scott Sullivan, curator of horticulture at the Indianapolis Zoo, said some of the animals that will benefit from the project are macaw birds — because they can perch or chew on the plants — and elephants, because they require a lot of food.
“Our animals here love chewing on and eating yellow groove bamboo, so hopefully we are going to be down there weekly to take it from the residents and feed it out to the animals,” Sullivan said.
Sullivan said this is not the first time the zoo has had a partnership like this. He said they have partnered with Newfields Museum of Art for the past several years as well as local tree companies.
“They were clearing out a large portion in their 100-acre woods section, and they were getting rid of all that section of their property,” Sullivan said. “We went there for years and would get all different kinds of trees from them.”
Zoo staff will come collect donations from Bloomington residents’ homes during the pickup window they signed up for. The pickups will take place on Mondays between 9:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. There are open slots from April 24 until December 25.
Angela Van Rooy, neighborhood services program manager for Bloomington, said the city is connecting residents to the zoo through a signup website.
“We designed it so every pickup is on a Monday thinking it would give people a chance over the weekend to do what needs to be done,” Rooy said. “In terms of the resident’s responsibility, everything needs to be cut and ready to go, put near the roadside or in someone’s driveway so it’s easily accessible for the zoo to pick up.”
Rooy said the signup website provides a detailed list of instructions for Bloomington residents to follow so the plants may be picked up safely. A specific type of plant species will be assigned for each pickup date, so nothing gets mixed up and makes the animals sick Rooy said.
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According to the City of Bloomington press release, the types of plants and trees that may be donated include: Yellow Groove Bamboo, Callery/Bradford Pear, Siberian Elm, Black Alder, White Mulberry, Maple and Box Elder.
“As we look directly into an increasing climate crisis, we need to consider all of the ways in which we can protect our planet, and maintaining healthy biodiversity is one of them,” Mayor John Hamilton said in the press release. “A program like this that supports residents in removing invasive plants while feeding animals is an all-around win.”