A herd of elephants have kicked off the festive season playing with giant Christmas trees at Whipsnade Zoo.
While many families are starting to decorate their trees for Christmas, keepers at the UK’s largest Zoo knew that their herd of endangered Asian elephants would have more fun pulling, shaking off and even eating decorations.
The keepers ‘dressed’ some giant pine trees, some up to 20-feet-tall, with elephant-friendly decorations made of fruit and wood, and let the celebrations begin.
First to discover their festive surprise were the youngest pair of pachyderms, five-year-old Beth and 12-year-old Donna, who dove straight into the woody wonderland, quickly locating the hidden apple and banana treats within the tree branches.
They were then joined by the rest of the herd, who threw conifers over their heads and merrily munched on pine branches.
Team Leader Stefan Groeneveld said: “Most people invite their family-members to get involved with tree-decorating as part of the fun and tradition of the festive season, but here at Whipsnade Zoo we like to invite our elephants to un-decorate the tree. They’re much better at it!
“Although elephants’ skin is thick, they love the feel of prickly branches when they rub up against them.
"They also love to sniff out their favourite treats, hidden inside the branches and retrieve them with their dexterous trunks, and when they’re done with all that, the trees themselves are also an excellent snack!
“It won’t just be the elephants enjoying Christmas-time here at Whipsnade Zoo.
"With 600-acres of outdoor space to explore and over 9500 animals to discover, families will find a world of fun awaits them in our wintery wonderland of wildlife!”
Whipsnade Zoo is open every day of the year except Christmas Day, and tickets can be booked in advance at www.zsl.org.