Lions celebrate with meaty treats

Harwich and Manningtree Standard: Libby, the young African lioness, thinks about climbing a meat-decorated Christmas tree in the lion enclosure at the Blair Drummond Safari Park. Libby, the young African lioness, thinks about climbing a meat-decorated Christmas tree in the lion enclosure at the Blair Drummond Safari Park.

A pride of lions enjoyed their own Christmas dinner as they ripped apart a festive tree decorated with meat.

Lioness Libby was most excited about the treat as she climbed the tree to find the best cuts of beef at Blair Drummond Safari Park in Stirling.

African male Dudley sniffed around the tree while Libby and fellow lioness Makalu fought over the rest of the edible decorations.

Meerkats at the park were also included in the festivities as they found baubles filled with meal worms on a tree in their enclosure.

The Christmas trees came from the forestry department on the Blair Drummond estate.

Park operations manager Gavin Hughes said: "I suppose it's their Christmas dinner but the difference is that for the lions the beef is a good source of enrichment so it helps them to grow and stay strong, I don't know if you get that with the traditional turkey and all the trimmings.

"Libby was the most interested and almost knocked over the tree trying to get at the meat. Anything different to them that involves food, they love investigating.

"They're inquisitive animals so as soon as something new goes into the enclosure, they all want a look at it.

"We have our own forestry department and sell trees over Christmas so that's where the tree came from.

"With the meerkats, they don't wait for an invitation they are always exploring and enjoyed their Christmas treats. The baubles were filled with meal worms, so it's not what you would get on a family Christmas tree, but the meerkats love it."

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