Christmas tree enrichment at Noah’s Ark Zoo Farm
16th January 2014
The January blues were nowhere to be seen at Noah’s Ark Zoo Farm near Bristol today as Christmas was revived, thanks to a huge delivery of 6ft Christmas trees. A hundred Christmas trees were given a second lease of life after going spare at Almondsbury Garden Centre in Bristol last December. Our big zoo animals at Noah’s Ark in Wraxhall went wild playing with their belated festive treat. The arrival of pine trees represents an important new year enrichment activity at the zoo. Similar festive fun took place over Halloween which saw edible treats presented to animals in pumpkins.
Mighty White Rhinos Rumbull and Rumba – who made short shrift of their pumpkins in October – saw Christmas trees for the very first time. They loved exploring and sniffing their trees, which were stood upright and given rubber tyre bases, presented with a gift-wrapped box of hay. The scene was set up in their sand yard for them by their Keeper Emma. The big cats are always particularly enthralled with the smell of fir trees and got quickly to work exploring and scent-marking their playthings. Inquisitive by nature, they particularly enjoy the feel of the bristly needles brushing against their coats and the unique scent of pine.
Beautiful Bengal tigers Tiana and Khan enjoyed clawing and rolling around on their Christmas trees and grabbing ones hung up by rope from their climbing towers. The park’s little residents didn’t miss out, with the Ring-tailed Lemurs having a tree of their own to sniff and explore in their house. Decorated with grapes and other bits of fruit and veg, the lemur family enjoyed finding their food and pulling at the fir branches. The fun trees have a more serious function, providing valuable enrichment for the animals. Playing with the foreign objects, with their interesting textures and scents, keeps them both psychologically and physically stimulated.
A varied programme runs throughout the year to keep all creatures great and small healthy, active and engaged with their surroundings. Behavioural enrichment is part of the animals’ daily management plans at Noah’s Ark and encourages animal interaction by providing objects and activities that stimulate and socialise them. Noah’s Ark was recently awarded ‘Gold’ in the Green Tourism Business Scheme in recognition of the sustainable approach to operations and the re-use of trees is just one example of the eco-friendly activities at the farm. Richard Truscott, Marketing Manager at Almondsbury Garden Centre said that donating the trees also helped out their business:
“Finding innovative ways to recycle trees is important for us as a business to help the environment. “Providing Noah's Ark with these trees just shows there are many ways to recycle your tree without just throwing it away. We’re delighted the animals can make such good use of them!” Noah’s Ark Zoo Farm is open on Saturdays in January, from 10:30am – 4pm, offering a great family day out in Bristol.