Christmas Tree Recycling with North Somerset Council

Noah’s Ark Zoo have been using recycled Christmas trees for animal enrichment for their animals for several years. However, in 2020 after a case of mistaken identity with a zoo with a similar name in the US, the campaign took off beyond all expectations.

This year, the zoo had bigger and even greener plans to join forces with North Somerset Council to assist with chipping the excess trees to use around the site.  While the ongoing Covid-19 situation prevented many people from being able to bring their Christmas trees to the zoo, a great number of trees were still dropped off in the Christmas tree drop zone.

A large number of those trees were successfully used for animal enrichment, with the elephants being especially partial to a Christmas tree and able strip a whole tree in around 11 minutes.  While the lions love the fresh scent of the trees, especially if their meal is hiding under the trees! 

The remainder of the trees, approximately 1,500, were chipped by North Somerset Council’s Parks & Street Scene Contractor over a period of 4 days by Mark Gale, Stephen Pike, Graham Wakefield and Mark Kinman.

The woodchip has many uses around the zoo, in both animal enclosures and in the gardens. The woodchips were used in our Andean Adventure, providing different scents and providing resident Spectacled Bears, Madidi and Rasu some additional enrichment in their large enclosure. While the elephants, not only consume whole trees, but will quite happily munch their way through the chippings and search for their food that’s been buried in it. The meerkats love digging in the sand and to change it up, the keepers bury their food under the mulch, this simulates hunting in the wild and is a key part of their enrichment.

The zoo also uses the woodchip as a bedding mulch on the gardens across the 100 acre expanse of the zoo. This helps to subdue the weeds and maintain moisture in the soil and reduces the need for weed spraying.

 

Larry Bush, Managing Director of the zoo commented “We really love the Christmas tree recycling program and so do all our animals.  By joining forces with North Somerset Council, it enabled us to chip the remaining trees efficiently to use around the zoo grounds.  We hope to build on this popular scheme next year and to continue our partnership with North Somerset.”

The zoo and North Somerset Council are hoping to join forces again in 2022 with the aim of growing the Christmas Tree recycling program into the biggest year yet!

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