Lions and tigers were treated to special enrichment activities when a garden centre kindly donated Christmas trees to a zoo.
Park Garden Centres are some of the largest garden centres in the South West with branches in Bristol, Cheddar and Lechlade. Their Almondsbury Garden Centre decided that the left over Christmas trees could be put to good use at Noah’s Ark Zoo Farm. Park Garden Centres is committed to supporting the local community this was a good way to give back to the environment and also recycle the old trees in an ecologically friendly manner.
Noah’s Ark Zoo Farm has a special big cat area in their huge 110 acre outdoor zoo, with resident Bengal tigers and African lions.
Big cats are intrigued by the unique smell of fir trees, and they also like the way that the bristly branches feel against their fur.
So the zoo keepers decided to put the 50 festive trees in their enclosure for them to explore. The mini forest of six foot trees was dug in overnight on Monday, January 14th, whilst the cats were inside their house.
The following day was lovely and sunny, the perfect conditions for the animals to explore the new surroundings watched by the zoos keepers, Marketing Manager Richard Truscott and an assembled audience of press and photographers.
Enjoying the bright winter sun, the big cats clearly had a great time exploring the special new pine smell coming from their fields.
A useful winter enrichment exercise was designed to stimulate their senses and provide extra activity. First Khan, an 8 year old male Bengal type tiger, and then the African lion brothers Zulu and Masai got their chance to sniff, claw and pounce on the mini forest of pine trees.
Noah’s Ark Zoo Farm runs behavioural enrichment programmes which encourage animals to interact with their surroundings in a way that stimulates and socialises them. Behavioural enrichment is necessary for optimal psychological and physiological wellbeing and part of the zoo’s commitment to their animals.
Richard Truscott from Park Garden Centres said: “Finding innovative ways to recycle trees is important for us as a business. Providing Khan and brothers Zulu and Masai with new trees is also a great way for us to help the environment. The pictures are evidence in themselves. Providing Noah’s Ark with these trees just shows there are many ways to recycle your tree without just throwing it away. All cats will be inquisitive if only as a scratching post or somewhere to brush their fur.”