A narrow escape from the disaster of a tree crashing down at a pub has turned to diners’ delight for animals at nearby Woburn Safari Park.
The massive eucalyptus tree was blown down by high winds in the garden of the Old Sun at Ampthill on Saturday lunchtime.
Estimated to weigh around five tons, it has stood in the pub garden for around 40 years.
“It was so lucky that nobody was out in the garden at the time or they would have been killed,” said landlord’s son Jay Harris.
“It all happened in seconds. There was an almighty crash and the tree was down, roots and all.
“It landed on the wooden tables. Luckily it missed the pub itself and also the barns, which are our function rooms.”
Faced with an unusable garden full of the mighty trunk and branches, the pub set about organising clearance.
“Then somebody at work mentioned Woburn Safari Park and wondered if any of the animals there liked to eat eucalyptus,” said Jay, who works as a fireman.
“We contacted the park on the off chance and they were really keen. They said they have all sorts of animals that love it.”
The park sent out a team of men with chain saws the very next day to fill a van with leaves and chunks of branches.
Woburn Safari Park's senior keeper Louise Moody said: “It’s very rare that we are able to collect browse from outside of the park to feed to the animals, as we can’t take machinery offsite to cut it and also need to ensure no pesticides have been used.
“However in this case the storm had brought down a huge tree and the Old Sun had cut it to a manageable size.
Although we have a lot of different varieties of trees we feed to the animals on site, we don’t actually have too many eucalyptus trees, so this was a real treat!"
Louise said the wallabies and goats particularly enjoyed eating it, but some more unusual animals benefited from it too.
“The snakes actually really enjoy the scent of it. Olfactory enrichment is really important for snakes, it encourages them to use their amazing senses to explore their surroundings,” she said.
The Old Sun team is just grateful for a happy ending.
“It could have been a disaster but luckily it wasn’t. It’s great to think the animals had a treat,” said Jay.