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Taronga’s keepers and animal behaviouralists surprised many of the Zoo animals with Christmas-themed treats and puzzles today.

Bethyl, Taronga 33 year old Kodiak Bear, knocked the top right off a papier-mâché snowman as soon as she smelled the nuts and honey inside.

The Zoo’s Tree Kangaroos, Parum and Salsa, bounded out of their night dens to discover Santa sacks filled with treats including watermelon pieces cut in the shape of  Christmas trees.

The pair quickly grabbed the fruit and also enjoyed a snack of hibiscus flowers.

Taronga’s Chimpanzees found colourful bonbons containing dried fruit and popcorn and there was soon a lot of competition to grab these prizes.

The younger chimps used their fantastic agility to snatch smaller bonbons and scamper to the tops of climbing poles to avoid having them ‘confiscated’ by the older members of the 19-strong group.

At the Meerkat Desert, piñatas shaped like birds, brightly wrapped boxes and two bonbons containing meal worms and crickets were pounced on immediately, with some meerkats even crawling right into the boxes to catch the crickets.

Another meerkat leapt boldly to reach the bonbons.

Encouraging these skills is part of maintaining the animals’ wildness under the Zoos’ commitment maintaining 90% of its wildlife’s genetic and behavioural diversity over 100 years.

These activities are used year round and are developed and refined by the keepers and the Zoos’ Behavioural Studies Unit. 

- Zoo Communications

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