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Five-month-old Lestari will be experiencing her first Christmas at West Midland Safari Park this year and will be spending it with her mum, Dourga and her keepers, who at this time of year often use seasonal items as forms of enrichment for the animals in their care. This may be stockings full of hay for the rhinos, bauble pits for the meerkats – or, in this case, offering the textures and scents of a small, tiger cub-sized Christmas tree, donated by the park’s events team.

Head Keeper of Carnivores, Chris Hodgkins, says:“As it’s Lestari’s first Christmas, to make it extra special she was given a Christmas tree as enrichment. Enrichment is important for all our animals as it gives them something to explore and encourages natural behaviours. Lestari loved the tree and it didn’t take her long to realise she could play with it, especially after her mum had pulled it out the ground! We loved watching her stalk and pounce on it, then drag it around her habitat. I think it’s safe to say she has been a good girl this year and will be getting a nice present from Santa! The keepers are thrilled to see how much she has grown and developed her own little personality!”

At this time of year, there are over 300 trees at the park, being using as decorations for the Park’s Santa Safari and Safari Skating events. In the new year, the trees will either be donated as enrichment for the animals or recycled as part of a ‘treecycling’ campaign for the Park’s partnership with local charity, the Grace Kelly Childhood Cancer Trust.

Volunteers, including staff members from the Park, will be collecting used Christmas trees from people’s homes and dropping them at the Park where the trees will be chipped on site to be used as bedding for some of the animals.

Donations from the treecycling service will support children and their families in the area, fighting childhood cancer. More information can be found here:

The park will be open daily over the Christmas period until 7 January 2024, closing only for Christmas Day and Boxing Day.

Guests can see the animals on a winter safari, or on foot in the park’s pedestrianised areas, including Lestari and Dourga in Tiger Tropics.

Safari Skating is also available until 7 January 2024 and is £8.50 if adding on to winter admission or a Santa ticket, or £13.50 for skating only, with children under the age of three being free.

Tickets can be booked in advance via the Park’s website, where guests can also see the calendar of events. Find out more on the Safari Park’s official Facebook page:

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