Manager Dawny Greenwood told the BBC that the scented trees were “almost like catnip” for the big cats who had been getting “hours of fun” from playing with them.
As well as being large-scale toys for the lions and tigers, for whom the scent produces a response similar to that from catnip, the trees are also being used to help the zoo produce green energy. Those which are not being used by the cats are destined for the zoo’s bio-burner, providing extra heating and hot water to get the animals and staff through the chilly winter months.
Donations have come from families dropping off their much-loved yet tattered single tree, to nurseries in the local community donating unsold stock. They have simply been left at the zoo’s front gate for staff to pick up.
Trees which still have roots and are in good health are being planted around the animals’ enclosures for them to enjoy throughout the coming months and years.
By Lucy Purdy: firstname.lastname@example.org