Bring on the Browse

Bring on the Browse

Bringing on the Browse

African elephants, giraffes, great apes and many of the other herbivores at Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium have a "neck" for browse - trees, bark, twigs, branches and other fresh and consumable leafy materials - and benefit immensively from having access to it year-round. If you have any that you can spare, we'd love to work with you. Branches must be live wood that is fresh cut, must not have been treated with any chemicals and be from a disease-free tree. This helps keep our animals happy and healthy!

Community Donations

Whether a storm damaged your tree, you are having it removed, or just giving it a trim, please consider reaching out. If you scroll down, you will find a contact form and some FAQ’s to help guide your donation!  

Donations of branches can almost always be dropped off. Pickups can be scheduled depending on our team’s availability, amount available, and your distance from the Zoo.


Partner With Us

Are you a company that regularly takes down or trims trees as part of your business? Do you have trees away from fences, power lines or buildings on an accessible piece of property that you would like removed or just want to donate?

Frequently Asked Questions

What kind of tree do I have?

Please check the approved browse pictures for help! If you are still unsure, please go ahead and fill out the Contact Form choosing “I’m not sure” under Types of Trees. If you can, please include 3-4 pictures:  

1) A close-up picture of some of the leaves  

2) A picture of flowers/seeds/fruit if there are any present

3) A close-up picture of the trunk of the tree (to showcase the bark).  

4) A picture that includes as much of the overall tree trunk and canopy as you can.  

What size branches will you take?

Ideally 6 - 8 feet in length and 2 inches or less in diameter (thickness). Leafier the better! If our team is picking up, they will bring equipment to cut the limbs smaller if necessary, so feel free to keep them long! Larger diameter logs may be taken occasionally, depending on our need for them.

How far is too far to arrange a pickup?

Generally, any location over 30 minutes driving distance from the zoo will be too far for our team. Some exceptions can be made if the amount will be a large enough quantity to fill a truck and trailer. All pickups are dependent on our team’s availability. Check the map of Nebraska Zip codes as reference for your area (donations from nearby Iowa are also accepted).

How many branches can you take?

For pickup we request it be at least a truckload worth of branches, if not more. Drop-offs can be of any size! 

Can you trim my tree and take the branches?

Unfortunately, we cannot. We are not licensed arborists and cannot assume liability for damaging trees or property. Special cases may be made for easily removable trees not near homes or power lines. 

Can you take a tree that has been treated with pesticides (conventional or organic)?

No, we cannot. Even organic pesticides (or herbicides/ fungicides) could be harmful to our animals. Better safe than sorry! 

I cut my tree last week and then saw you were accepting donations. The tree is dry now. Can you still take it?

Fresh branches with green leaves are best. If it’s a donation in winter, we require the branches be fresh cut. 

Do you accept branches in the winter?

Yes! Our elephant, giraffes, and various other species still benefit greatly from stripping the bark from bare branches. Mostly, this provides an entertaining task for our animals while they patiently enjoy the barns as they wait for warmer weather. During the dormant (winter) season, branches will stay fresh for up to 2 weeks. If the bark is still green and fresh, we can accept these branches.

Will you take the whole tree along with everything I trim?

Generally, no. Occasionally we may be able to take larger diameter logs but that depends on our ability to use them. Never hurts to ask! We are also interested in root balls of trees that have been dug out.

Is there somewhere at the Zoo I can drop off my branches?

We ask that you please always contact us by completing the request form above (on this page) and wait for written or verbal confirmation before bringing us a delivery. We appreciate your donation and want to make sure we have staff available to unload it at the most convenient drop-off location. 

I was told you cannot accept my tree donation. Why?

The most common reason we cannot accept your donation is because it may be toxic to our animals. Sometimes we cannot accommodate all of the donations available — usually after big storms or around bulk-trash pickup week. Even if we cannot take your donation, we appreciate you thinking of us and encourage you to contact us again in the future about available branches. 

Can I see the animals enjoying my donation?

It may not be possible for you to see your donation being enjoyed, as hundreds of the Omaha Zoo animals enjoy browse in the form of enrichment and/or nutrition items and each one has specific dietary needs and restrictions. Once all donations have been collected and sorted, our zoologists determine which browse fits the needs of each animal. But please know that Zoo staff, and especially the animals, greatly appreciate your donation! 

Can I leave browse outside on my curb for the Zoo to pickup?

Yes you can! But please fill out the form and select the “schedule a pickup” option to let us know that the browse is available. Please note that we will only pick up from areas within the zip codes listed above.