Holiday Gifts and Leftover Christmas Trees for Oakland Zoo Animals

Oakland Zoo
December 29, 2017

The holidays were a hit for the animals at Oakland Zoo this month, with gifts for the animals pouring in from the public (through an Amazon Wishlist put together by zookeepers) and also surplus Christmas trees gifted from local Christmas tree farms as enrichment. The generosity of people, responding to the online 'animal's wish list,' along with local tree companies looking to unload leftover trees contacted Oakland Zoo made for much holiday cheer.

Instead of Christmas trees going to landfills, the trees have been filling animal habitats with cheer. The leftover trees are used to create sticky snacks, fun furniture, perfect hiding places, and smelly scents. Gifts were wrapped (when appropriate) by zookeepers and given to the animals over the course of the last two weeks.

Animals such as elephants, giraffes, zebras, camels, and goats enjoy the tree branches as an appetizer, while baboons and otters prefer hunting through pine needles for a game of find the hidden treats. Gifted kongs, puzzle-feeders, jolly balls and more were given to Sun bears, tigers, zebras, baboons, chimps and many other animals.

"The elephants and other animals at Oakland Zoo will be spreading the holiday cheer far past New Year's Day as they enjoy the scrumptious taste of a noble or Douglas fir,” said Gina Kinzley, Co-Elephant Manager at Oakland Zoo. “While elephants may enjoy the taste, other animals use the trees for furniture or hiding places as well as an air freshener. Over the years, the elephants have gotten picky, and prefer to dine on noble firs."

Christmas trees are a form of enrichment zookeepers strive daily to give all animals at Oakland Zoo. Squirrel monkeys enjoy swinging and hanging around in the noble firs, finding treats zookeepers hide within, and treating the trees like new play structures in their exhibit. The tree donations provide a seasonal delight for animals to explore, experience, and smell in their exhibits. Guests may watch animals enjoying the seasonal treats daily from 10:00am – 4:00pm.

Oakland Zoo would like to thank Crystal River Christmas Trees, Brent’s Christmas Trees and the public for their generous donations to the Zoo animals.

About Animal Enrichment

Animal enrichment items (special play toys, unique scents, or food treats) are a valuable asset to all zoos. Not only do they provide the exercise that all animals need, but they also help to keep the animals active, engaged, and foraging in natural behaviors. While visiting Oakland Zoo, guests may see firsthand how the animals interact with various enrichment items. Oakland Zoo does accept animal enrichment donations. For a complete list of items people can donate, visit

About Oakland Zoo

The Bay Area's award-winning Oakland Zoo is home to more than 660 native and exotic animals. The Zoo offers many educational programs and kid's activities perfect for science field trips, family day trips and exciting birthday parties. Oakland Zoo is dedicated to the humane treatment of animals and wildlife conservation onsite and worldwide; with 25¢ from each ticket donated to support conservation partners and programs around the world. The California Trail, a transformational project that more than doubles our size, opens in 2018, and will further our commitment to animal care, education, and conservation with a focus on this state's remarkable native wildlife. Nestled in the Oakland Hills, in 500-acre Knowland Park, the Zoo is located at 9777 Golf Links Road, off Highway 580. The East Bay Zoological Society (Oakland Zoo) is a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization supported in part by members, contributions, the City of Oakland and the East Bay Regional Parks.