Yorkshire Wildlife Park animals celebrate Christmas with presents

Christmas came early to Yorkshire Wildlife Park (YWP) this year as the rangers handed out special presents to the animals.

The rangers at the park, who work every day over the Christmas period, have been busy doling out delicious treats and toys.

The team, dressed in Santa hats, delivered extra portions of fruit and vegetables in boxes to the meerkats and armadillos. Meanwhile, the wallabies and lemurs enjoyed some seeds and nuts packed into festive crackers.

Fish and meat treats were also handed out to the Amur Tigers, leopards and lions, in tinsel-covered buckets as festive joy was spread around the 150-acre park.

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A meerkat has its own elf on a shelf festive visitor
A meerkat has its own elf on a shelf festive visitor
(Image: Yorkshire Wildlife Park)

The park’s newest polar bears – Hamish, Luka and Sisu – were also eager to get their paws on their first festive gifts.

The three new arrivals continue to settle in well with resident bear Nobby as they prepared to celebrate their first Christmas together at the Project Polar Reserve.

The bears’ gifts did not disappoint as they received a special festive fish mixture with an additional sprinkling of their favourite cod liver oil.

Other delights included a selection of fresh Christmas vegetables for a special baboon, a platter of fine fish treats for the South American giant otter duo, healthy candy canes for the giraffes and Christmas goodies for the young hyena cubs.

Debbie Porter, animal manager at the park, which is at Branton, near Doncaster, said: “Christmas is a special time for everyone, even this year, but our dedicated staff will be here caring for the animals as they do all year round.

“We always try to make the holiday season a special one for the animals.

Wallabies share a Christmas treat
Wallabies share a Christmas treat
(Image: Yorkshire Wildlife Park)

“Although it is a lot fewer than Santa Claus has to deliver to, with more than 450 animals, it takes all week to make sure they all get a special Christmas treat.

“Despite the tough year we have had, the staff are still in great spirits as they go about all their daily chores, from mucking out to health checks, and we are really grateful for their dedication.”

Dr Matt Hartley, head of animals, said: “Caring for the animals year round is always such a pleasure for us but on Christmas, we like to give the animals an extra special treat.

“It’s such a joy to see the animals open their presents.”

YWP is open for advanced bookings every day except Christmas Day for a Covid-safe day out for all the family who can come almost face-to-face with some of the world’s most beautiful and rare species.

The park’s winter illuminations continue until January 17, 2021.

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