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Paignton Zoo finds a new food source

A unique collaboration has been formed between National Trust and Paignton Zoo which is helping to feed zoo animals.

“We’re delighted to be working with National Trust. This is a project that’s been in the pipeline for some time so it’s great to have established this and it’s already proving to be mutually beneficial,” said Catherine Mortimer, Deputy Curator of Botanics.

For years National Trust have needed to dispose of vast quantities of green waste, however the historic Greenway site, owned by National Trust and famed for being the home of Agatha Christie, has given its green waste a new lease of life in the form of browse to feed zoo animals. Browse is vegetation such as twigs and branches with leaves which is nutritious food for many animals.

“We’ve got a wide range of animals at Paignton Zoo that eat browse from the smallest which is our Kirk’s dik diks to our largest, our giraffes, as well as many in between such as baboons and orangutans and our black rhinos among others,” said Stuart Parr, Senior Keeper of Mammals at Paignton Zoo.

He continued: “Our gardens team do a fantastic job at growing browse within our zoo, however there is just not enough to keep up with demand, for example each giraffe on average can eat 100 kilos of browse every day so we have to supplement their diet with vegetables like cabbage. Any additional browse we can get really benefits our animals and it also benefits National Trust so this new relationship is win-win.”

Ashley Brent, Head Gardener at Greenway and Compton Castle said: “”The mature gardens at Greenway need a lot of care and maintenance which involves managing the trees and shrubs in our care and as a result we often work on trees, reducing or even removing them to keep the gardens healthy, visitors safe and maximise the breath-taking views.”

He continued: “The relationship that we have established with Paignton Zoo is brilliant because it reduces the waste we have to process which would have ordinarily been chipped, possibly burned, although this is a last resort, or turned into compost. Now the waste can feed zoo animals, who seem to be particularly partial to our evergreen oak, which is great as they grow like weeds at Greenway!”