The Minister for Climate Change and the Environment, Frank Sartor today announced that the festive spirit will be spread to Taronga zoo when animals receive special Christmas treats.
“Each day Taronga’s Keepers change the way food is presented to the animals to stimulate and encourage them to forage, but today will have a Christmas twist,” Mr Sartor said.
The activities are designed by the Zoos’ dedicated Keepers and behavioural biologists to arouse the animals’ inquisitiveness and stimulate their natural behaviours.
Mr Sartor said the Keepers will help elephant calf Luk Chai celebrate his first Christmas this year with iceblocks filled with fruit treats and peanuts.
“The Elephant Keepers will be putting coloured ice treats in the paddock along with a massive iceblock which took the keepers three days to make.
“The elephants will use their trunks and feet to break the ice apart to reach the food – a truly wondrous sight,” Mr Sartor said.
Taronga’s Sumatran Tiger, Jumilah, will find an array of boxes wrapped in Christmas paper and filled with his favourite meat morsels.
Mr Sartor said that Tiger numbers have collapsed from 100,000 a century ago to less than 3000 across the globe today. In 2010 Zoos are hoping to use the community interest in the Chinese Year of the Tiger to focus attention on the loss of habitat and wildlife.
“Sadly we expect a surge in the demand for Tiger parts that could deliver a fatal blow to their numbers in the wild.
“Already Sumatran Tigers are under pressure from jungle clearance to make way for Palm Oil plantations,” Mr Sartor said.
Australia’s iconic native animals will also be getting specially designed edible Christmas trees surrounded by festive bags for the kangaroos, wallabies and the Emu at Taronga’s Australian Walkthrough exhibit.
The slightly unusual Christmas trees will incorporate the native animals’ favourite foods with branches of mulberry leaves, decorated with grevillea and hibiscus flowers. As an extra festive treat the Keepers have designed festive balls made out of pinecones filled with peanut butter, mashed banana and small native flowers.
Taronga and Taronga Western Plains Zoos are open throughout the summer school holidays including Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day.