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Headline : Stomping in a winter wonderland
Caption : Keepers at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo create an elephants’ winter wonderland

The countdown to Christmas has begun at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo and the zookeepers have been busy preparing an extra special seasonal surprise for the Zoo’s herd of Asian elephants – an indoor forest of Christmas trees!

Pachyderm-sized pine trees – some up to 20ft tall – were installed in Whipsnade Zoo’s Centre for Elephant Care by the elephants’ excited zookeepers, who also hid some of the ele’s favourite snacks under the trees, putting a festive spin on their usual enrichment offering.

Team Leader Stefan Groeneveld said, “We’re all in a festive, celebratory mood now that Whipsnade Zoo is open again so we created a seasonal scene for our elephants’ home – but while Christmas trees in most houses are intended to be admired only, the elephants’ trees were very much there to be played with!

“Elephants have quite tough skin, but they love the feel of the prickly branches when they rub up against them. We also hid some of their favourite treats inside the branches for them to sniff out and retrieve with their dexterous trunks – they had the best time playing in their own winter wonderland, so much so we left them in there overnight to continue their fun! “

ZSL Whipsnade Zoo is open to the public once again and with incredible animals, 600-acres of outdoor space to explore and festive activities for little ones to join in with, there’s something for the whole family to enjoy. The UK’s largest zoo will be open regardless of which tier the county is in, meaning visitors can book in confidence, as they are guaranteed a festive family day out.

Stefan added: “Like parents up and down the country, we spent much of the day after the celebrations clearing up – there were trees pulled down and branches everywhere, but it’s all worth it when you see how much fun the elephants had!”

Funds raised from Christmas visits will help international conservation charity ZSL (Zoological Society of London), which runs London Zoo and Whipsnade Zoo, continue to care for the 20,000 residents at its two Zoos and protect threatened species around the world.
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