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WATCH: Christmas came early for the animals at Belfast Zoo!

Christmas came early at Belfast Zoo this year as animals were seen opening up their presents earlier this week.

The zoo’s two elderly rescue elephants, the meerkats and the penguins, were as excited as kids on Christmas morning after receiving gifts from the zookeepers.

The zoo's staff made sure to look after the animals during the festive season by wrapping brightly coloured boxes in the form of animal enrichment gifts.

A group of meerkats were seen eagerly rummaging through their boxes which were filled with tasty mealworms.

Dhunja and Yhetto the zoo’s elephants, made short work of their gifts which were boxes stuffed with hay, apples and carrots.

The zoo’s gentoo penguins were also treated to bright red boxes which they were a little wary of at first, but curiosity soon took over.

Acting Zoo Manager, Andrew Hope, explains:

“Animals often tend to get excited whenever they discover something new in their home.

“Some animals dig into their gifts straight away such as the meerkats and the elephants, whereas some are a little more reserved and inquisitive, like the penguins. You never quite know what way an animal will respond and it can often be quite funny to see them getting excited.

“Providing the animals with items that they don't regularly receive, such as colourful wrapped boxes, helps to physically and mentally stimulate the animals. This type of enrichment is used to help keep the animals happy and healthy as it encourages natural behaviour and provides stimulation.”

Visitors can catch more of the animals getting their Christmas treats over two weekends in December (11-12 and 18-19 December). Kids go free* for the month of December too so there couldn’t be a better time to grab your woolly hats and plan your next trip to Belfast Zoo!

*One free child admission with every paying adult

Belfast Zoological Gardens is owned and operated by Belfast City Council.

On Saturday 11, Sunday 12, Saturday 18 and Sunday 19 December, visitors can come enjoy our festive feeding times as Santa will be treating the animals to Christmas gifts such as wrapped boxes, crackers and stockings. For further information and to view the schedule please visit the Belfast Zoo website:

Normal admission rates apply. Read about our health and safety measures and purchase tickets on the Belfast Zoo website:

One free child admission per full paying adult admission. For full terms and conditions for the Kids Go Free offer, please visit the Belfast Zoo website:


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