He’s made his list, checked it twice and now Santa Paws has paid a special Christmas Eve visit to Zoos SA.
The big man in red had some extra help from the volunteer BEEZA (Behaviour and Environmental Enrichment of Zoo Animals) elves, who created a bunch of festive-themed goodies for the furry, feathered and scaly residents to rip into.
While all the animals across Adelaide Zoo and Monarto Safari Park celebrated the silly season with some festive treats, there was a particularly special group who dug into the colourfully-decorated enrichment.
These were the stars of Zoos SA’s 12 days of conservation Christmas appeal and the ambassadors for the organisations 26 conservation programs.
At Adelaide Zoo Giant Panda, Wang Wang, tucked into a panda cake, carrots and apple filled gingerbread man before snacking on bamboo while Fu Ni enjoyed a candy cane shaped panda cake.
Over in the Nocturnal House, the newest resident and ambassador for the Marna Banggara rewilding project, Brush-tailed Bettong Beans, munched on festively-packaged popcorn and mealworms.
Meanwhile, at Monarto Safari Park Black-flanked Rock-wallaby or Warru, Ruby, snacked on Christmas-themed Mulberry browse. Ruby was a rescue found near Alice Springs and now raises awareness about South Australia’s most endangered mammal.
Zoos SA Manager of Conservation, Research and Animal Welfare, Mark Smith, said the giving of Christmas presents forms part of the important animal enrichment program at Zoos SA.
“Giant Pandas and Brush-tailed Bettong are just some of the lucky animals to receive some Christmas Eve enrichment,” he said.
“The majority of animals at Zoos SA will receive festive enrichment over the Christmas season so visitors will have lots of exciting opportunities to see them tuck into their gifts.
“Enrichment is incredibly important as it gives the animals stimulation and allows them the opportunity to use many of their natural behaviours including digging, scratching and excavating.
“The Christmas enrichment this year is also a wonderful way to highlight our conservation priorities and 12 days of conservation Christmas appeal.
“So if you are looking for a last minute gift, there is still time to donate! We are so thankful for your donations as they will help us protect threatened species and contribute to on-ground conservation efforts.”
A donation of just $20 will help Zoos SA support conservation programs such as the Cheetah Conservation Fund, Giraffe Conservation Foundation, and the program to help the critically-endangered Orange-bellied Parrot.
To go with that warm fuzzy feeling of giving back, supporters can also download a gift card, fun conservation-themed sing-a-long and conservation decoration for their own tree at home.
For those looking for a roarsome way to celebrate the season, both Adelaide Zoo and Monarto Safari Park are open 365 days a year including Christmas, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day.
But the cheer doesn’t end there – little ones can join in the fun during our School Holiday program ‘All About Africa’, while young and old will love the return of Zoo Nights running on 29 December and 6, 13 and 20 January.
For more information or to donate to the 12 days of conservation Christmas appeal, please visit zoossa.com.au/conservationchristmas/.