Caldwell zoo lions: Mulching Christmas trees? - - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

Caldwell zoo lions: Mulching Christmas trees?


The holidays are over, so what do you do with your live Christmas tree? The best thing to do is recycle it. Tyler's Caldwell Zoo is doing just that, but they have an organic way to mulch.

Let's take a closer look at their four-legged mulchers.

A lone Christmas tree finds itself at the wrong place, at the wrong time: right smack in the middle of the Caldwell Zoo's African Savanna, and it's rumored the lions are a little Grinch-y about Christmas.

Scotty Stainback, Caldwell Zoo Curator of Mammals, has nothing against Christmas trees; he just likes to help change things up for the animals.

"It's a form of enrichment, which we try to provide a lot of enrichment for the animals. You put something new in there and it's not something they see every day. They come out into these exhibits every day and when you put something new in there they either love it or they're scared to death of it. If they're scared of it they usually come around in a day or two, and then they attack it," Scotty explained.

The lions rush the enrichment object, but it doesn't move. One lion eats the "angel" on top which is really just feathers. The tree stands its ground, and surprisingly is not mulched.

"Usually they'll check it out and we'll get one of two reactions from them. One is they're scared of it and they'll run from it and hide from it, or they'll run out and they'll attack it, which is what we're hoping these guys will do," Scotty stated.

Well, kids and lions just never do anything on cue, but bears are a different story. It looks like they love Christmas, and it should go without saying that bears are tree huggers.

"She hadn't seen it in a while, so she bear-hugged it, and just cradled it for a little while," Scotty recalled.

Bears are also tree mulchers. Completely organic, these mulchers are powered by meat, but not as efficient as the mechanical gas powered versions. Not as reliable either.

But they all seem pretty happy, especially the Christmas tree.

The Caldwell Zoo's enrichment program uses only all-organic items. They make sure the tress have not been chemically-treated in any way.

In a similar vein, during the fall they give the animals a pumpkin for their enrichment object.

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