SANTA will make a stop at Edinburgh Zoo tomorrow to deliver special presents for all the animals at the attraction.
Gift-wrapped parcels will be left in the enclosures for inhabitants to wake up to on Christmas morning, followed by a festive lunch of their favourite foods.
And keepers were hoping the presents, which are aimed at providing entertainment as well as a tasty treat, would help make the day extra special for animals and visitors alike.
Fun-loving Rockhopper and Gentoo penguins have asked Santa for a bubble machine so they can chase and pop the bubbles using their bills.
After they’ve worked up an appetite, it will be time for Christmas lunch including blue whiting and a scatter feed of sprats and krill, a treat that encourages their natural foraging behaviours.
The 19-strong troop of chimpanzees are each getting a classic woolly jumper which they like to use as bedding. They will also get extra bananas and Christmas chimp cookies made to a special recipe with ground food pellets, honey and raisins.
Lions Jayendra and Kamlesh, tigers Tibor and Baginda, Zane and Skodje and leopards Mowgli and Rica will get into the Christmas spirit when keepers deliver their meat hidden inside seasonally wrapped boxes. The curious animals will also get cut outs of snowmen and trees to tear into.
Head of living collections Darren McGarry said the animals would get various treats over the festive season which were designed to provide enrichment.
He said: “Although obviously the animals don’t understand that it’s a special occasion, enrichment does play a vital part in the health and wellbeing of our animals and adding a Christmas theme is also great fun for our keepers and visitors alike.
“Our keepers spend a great deal of time and effort devising new forms of enrichment for the animals in their care and thinking of how different ideas can offer social, cognitive, sensory, food and physical benefits.
“We use enrichment in various forms throughout the year, not just at Christmas time, to promote natural animal behaviours and characteristics – such as foraging for food or nesting. It’s all about challenging the individuals in our care, and we even have a dedicated enrichment group at the zoo.”
Christmas crackers filled with food will be put out for the hunting dogs, which will have to work together to get to the contents. Sun bear brothers Rotana and Somnang have a real Christmas tree to look forward to, decorated with apples, papayas and sweet potatoes.
The lively groups of capuchin and squirrel monkeys will get prezzies filled with hay and chunks of fruit and vegetables to test their agility and intelligence.
A few of the larger animals, such as the Indian one-horned rhino duo Bertus and Samir, will get extra portions of fruit and vegetables as part of the Christmas feed, alongside a healthy helping of browse and hay.
The zoo’s three North American tree porcupines will crunch their way through extra handfuls of their favourite food, peanuts.
Giant pandas Tian Tian (Sweetie) and Yang Guang (Sunshine), celebrating their first year at the zoo, have not been left out. They will enjoy a little extra helping of their own version of Christmas cake – their nutritional supplement known as panda cake – before the animals unwind and take a nap, ready to watch the Queen’s speech.
The gift of giving
Other gifts you might get animals at a zoo:
• Giraffe – Neck warmer or long scarf.
• Panda – Socks for their bear feet.
• Lion – ‘Human’ chocolate bar.
• Birds of prey – The Eagles Greatest Hits.
• Anteater – A nose job.