Can you help? Zoo appeals for unwanted Christmas trees for animals to play with

PUBLISHED: 15:55 15 January 2020

Jeff Gunton and friends Lee O'Dea and Dave Jones loading up a truck full of christmas trees donated by residents in and around Weston Village.       Picture: MARK ATHERTON

Jeff Gunton and friends Lee O'Dea and Dave Jones loading up a truck full of christmas trees donated by residents in and around Weston Village. Picture: MARK ATHERTON

Archant

A Wraxall zoo has benefited from an online case of mistaken identity over the festive period.

Jeff Gunton and friends Lee O'Dea and Dave Jones loading up a truck full of christmas trees donated by residents in and around Weston Village.       Picture: MARK ATHERTONJeff Gunton and friends Lee O'Dea and Dave Jones loading up a truck full of christmas trees donated by residents in and around Weston Village. Picture: MARK ATHERTON

A mix-up in Facebook posts lead to a fortunate turn of events for the animals of Noah's Ark Zoo Farm after an American zoo called Noah's Ark Animal Sanctuary, based in Locust Grove in Georgia, posted a request for donations of unwanted Christmas trees.

After receiving an influx of old trees earlier this month, Wraxall's zoo decided to take in all the trees on this side of the pond and use them for animal enrichment.

The zoo has received more than 1,000 donations of non-decorated, natural trees.

Jeff Gunton and friends Lee O'Dea and Dave Jones loading up a truck full of christmas trees donated by residents in and around Weston Village.       Picture: MARK ATHERTONJeff Gunton and friends Lee O'Dea and Dave Jones loading up a truck full of christmas trees donated by residents in and around Weston Village. Picture: MARK ATHERTON

Larry Bush, the zoo's managing director, said: "Sustainability and being eco-friendly is really important and is a factor in everything we do.

"So, when the idea came about to recycle people's Christmas trees, it felt like it fitted with our ethos perfectly."

The zoo will use the trees for months to come, and visitors have been able to enjoy watching Khan the Bengal tiger, the African elephants and the bears eat and play with their festive treats.

Jeff Gunton and friends Lee O'Dea and Dave Jones loading up a truck full of christmas trees donated by residents in and around Weston Village.       Picture: MARK ATHERTONJeff Gunton and friends Lee O'Dea and Dave Jones loading up a truck full of christmas trees donated by residents in and around Weston Village. Picture: MARK ATHERTON

The online appeal prompted Jeff Gunton to arrange a collection of unwanted trees from across North Somerset.

Jeff has asked for people to drop their old trees at his house, and he will deliver them to the zoo.

On Saturday, Jeff and his friends Dave Jones and Lee O'Dea sent more than 40 trees to the zoo, and he wants to make more trips in the coming weeks.

Lions with old Christmas trees. Picture: Noah's Ark Zoo FarmLions with old Christmas trees. Picture: Noah's Ark Zoo Farm

Jeff told the Times: "I saw the posts online and thought it makes sense to recycle these trees instead of throwing them away on to a landfill.

"It's nice to give something back to the animals, especially with all the troubles in Australia, with the bush fires resulting in so many animals dying.

"The zoo has been great and were thankful for me organising these collections. I'm doing this out of the goodness of my heart.

Lions with old Christmas trees. Picture: Noah's Ark Zoo FarmLions with old Christmas trees. Picture: Noah's Ark Zoo Farm

"My own posts on Facebook have had a massive response from people so, hopefully, I can send more trees in during the month."

A wide range of animals have enjoyed playing with the trees, including Andean bears, red deer, chickens and lions.

To donate unwanted Christmas trees, message Jeff on Facebook.

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