‘Twas the fortnight before Christmas, when all through the Zoo, every creature was stirring – because Santa had paid them an early visit! 

The animals at Drusillas Zoo Park must have been extra good this year, as Santa decided to deliver them a selection of paw-some Christmas presents ahead of schedule. Lynx, anteaters, yellow-throated martens, capybaras, and capuchin monkeys all awoke to find gift-wrapped goodies from Father Christmas today.

Rather than toys and games, their presents contained all kinds of delicious things to eat, like crickets, worms, oil, fish, beef, and vegetables. A little different to what you might expect to find under the Christmas tree, but carefully chosen to suit each animal’s specific dietary needs – who knew Santa was such an animal expert?

Like us, the animals couldn’t wait to open their gifts and excitedly tore through the wrapping to discover the tasty treats inside. Luis the capuchin monkey was so excited by opening his present that his joyful chirps could be heard throughout the Zoo!

The animals didn’t just appreciate the yummy snacks inside their gifts, presenting food in unusual ways also helps to keep their minds and bodies stimulated, and forms part of our daily enrichment activities at the Zoo.

Senior Keeper Jacinta Dawe said: “It made everyone here smile to see how much the animals enjoyed interacting with their gifts. While I’d rather not open a gift containing worms, or Spratts, these foods would have been top of our animal’s Christmas lists!” 

Jacinta continued: “Opening up their Christmas gifts formed part of this week’s enrichment programme for our animals, which is a daily activity we offer which presents food or exercise in a new way to help stimulate our animal’s problem-solving abilities and keep their minds and bodies active. This is a vital part of their care and why not use the excuse of the festive season to have a little fun at the same time? Watching the animals tear into the presents made us all even more excited for Christmas morning!”

Christmas morning at the Zoo is not quite the ‘presents in pyjamas’ affair it will be for many families, as keepers still have to carry our their normal daily routines. Although the Zoo will be closed to visitors, a small team of dedicated keepers will arrive before sunrise to make sure the Zoo’s 800 residents have been fed, cleaned, and watered just like any other day.

Jacinta continued: “Lots of people ask what Christmas Day is like at the Zoo, but it’s actually pretty much like any other day for us, except we might treat ourselves to some Christmas sandwiches. We still have to make sure everyone is happy and healthy so we’ll still be here in our wellies getting mucky, but we wouldn’t have it any other way – our animals are family to us so it’s like everyone else seeing their family on Christmas Day, except with slightly more mess!”

Located just off the A27 in Alfriston, Drusillas Park is open daily from 10am. For more information please telephone 01323 874100 or visit www.drusillas.co.uk