Jacob McCauley had finished trimming leafy ficus branches from an Echo Park street tree when a man approached him about the need to prune back some of the other overgrown trees on the same Sunset Boulevard block. But McCauley could not help the man out. McCauley is not a professional tree trimmer; he works for the Los Angeles Zoo. His job includes the task of harvesting leafy greens from Los Angeles’ urban forest to be consumed by the elephants, giraffes and other ficus-loving zoo animals. “It’s a salad for them,” McCauley said.
On Thursday morning, McCauley had filled a yellow, zoo flatbed truck with a large pile of ficus branches trimmed from a bushy tree in front of a Sunset Boulevard discount store. There is nothing particularly appetizing about an Echo Park ficus tree, said McCauley, who works in the zoo’s animal commissary as he prepares for a career in zoo keeping. Instead, Echo Park is one of several locations-including places in Hollywood and North Hollywood-that McCauley frequents to harvest branches from ficus as well as other trees.
The truckload of Echo Park ficus branches McCauley won’t last for long, probably only two or three days in the section of zoo he serves, McCauley said. “They love it.”