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Residents of Bloomington can give their unwanted, invasive plants to the Indianapolis Zoo



Bloomington, Indiana – A pilot program being run by the City of Bloomington and the Indianapolis Zoo will enable locals to contribute invasive and unwelcome plants from their homes to the zoo for use as animal chow.

Elephants, who need a lot of food, and macaw birds, who can perch or munch on the plants, are two creatures who will gain from the initiative, according to Scott Sullivan, curator of horticulture at the Indianapolis Zoo.

“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.

According to Sullivan, this is not the zoo’s first instance of a similar relationship. He claimed that for the past few years, they had collaborated with both neighborhood tree services and the Newfields Museum of Art.

“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.”

During the designated pickup window, zoo workers will visit Bloomington residents’ homes to pick up donations. The pickups will happen every Monday from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm. Between April 24 and December 25, there are available timeslots.

According to Angela Van Rooy, manager of Bloomington’s neighborhood services program, the city is using a sign-up website to connect locals with the zoo.

“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 claimed that residents of Bloomington can follow a comprehensive list of guidelines on the register page to ensure the safe pickup of the plants. For each pickup date, a specific plant species will be designated to ensure that nothing gets mixed up and sickens the animals, Rooy said.

The following plants and trees, among others, may be given, according to a news release from the City of Bloomington: 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.”


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