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July 08, 2021

AEP Ohio Partners with Columbus Zoo on 'Trim to Treat' Program

AEP Ohio’s forestry program is critical to keeping the power on — making sure lines and equipment are free of trees and brush that could cause outages for customers. Now, our forestry crews’ work will serve a dual purpose by donating a portion of the trees they regularly trim to benefit the animals at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium and The Wilds through our new “Trim to Treat” partnership. 

“Trim to Treat really is a unique and important program that directly benefits some animals at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium and The Wilds. Branches and tree trimmings from our neighboring communities will be repurposed and recycled for the animals in our care,” said Dr. Jan Ramer, interim senior vice president of animal care and conservation at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium and The Wilds. “We’re appreciative of the support from AEP Ohio and our community as together we work to creatively use these resources in ways that positively impacts the animals, many of which are threatened and endangered.”

The fresh tree trimmings, branches and twigs, also known as “browse”, are important to the animals’ diets and beneficial for enrichment. From the tallest to the smallest of animals, many will enjoy the benefits of this unique partnership, whether it’s a giraffe munching on some fresh leaves as part of its daily diet or a beaver chomping at a branch to help support dental health and its ever-growing teeth.

We’re proud to donate fresh, local browse to the animals at the Columbus Zoo and The Wilds. It’s really the perfect pairing – utilizing something we already have on hand to make a difference,” said Dale Hopkins, region forestry manager for AEP Ohio.

The Trim to Treat partnership will help the Columbus Zoo save money by reducing the need to source browse elsewhere. AEP Ohio forestry crews have an approved list of tree species from the Columbus Zoo that they’ll identify, bundle and deliver by the truckload after they’ve been trimmed. Deliveries will be made twice a week to the Columbus Zoo and roughly once a month to The Wilds in Cumberland, Ohio.

AEP Ohio, which assesses and trims trees on a four-year cycle, is the first of AEP’s operating companies to establish a partnership like this with a local zoo. According to Hopkins, only a handful a utility companies across the country have a similar program.

“We’re excited to lead the pack on this and think others may follow,” Hopkins said. 

Learn more about this partnership and how it works.