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Still have a Christmas tree? The Alaska Zoo animals would love to take it

Knobby the camel taking a quick break from scratching his head on a Christmas tree at the...
Knobby the camel taking a quick break from scratching his head on a Christmas tree at the Alaska Zoo before diving back in. Zookeepers say the snot bubble is surprisingly not from excitement, but hormones during his rut.(Taylor Clark)
Published: Jan. 27, 2021 at 6:50 AM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - For those still holding onto the holiday season with their Christmas trees still set up, there are animals at the Alaska Zoo that would love to take them for some scratches, playtime and many other enrichment activities.

Zookeeper Angelica Evans said zoos and aquariums recycle Christmas trees as enrichment for animals everywhere. She said the Alaska Zoo has been doing it for so long she can’t remember when they started.

Evans said while the animals are taken care of, they still live in a zoo.

“We make all their decisions in their lives, but these are happy, healthy animals that are fully capable of making decisions. So by providing them enrichment, we’re giving them more choice and control in their lives. Which gives encourages them to be mentally healthy as well as physically,” she said.

Giving the zoo the trees is a way for people to properly recycle their trees while helping the zoo keep their costs lower to take care of the animals, Evans said.

The animals all seem to get a different kind of kick out of the trees. Evans said the herbivores like them the most. Horns get scraped, itches get scratched, there’s rolling, pulling, tearing and maybe a couple fights over who gets to use them. Evans said the carnivores usually give them a good sniff before they urinate on them, but that’s about it. They normally get the leftover trees, Evans said.

For those looking to donate, make sure any ornaments and tags are gone. Evans said people can just drop them off at the donation bin near the greenhouse in the lower parking lot. The zookeepers check for more trees a few times a day.

They don’t just take trees. Evans pointed out that they’ll take a lot of stuff for the animals, like moose carcasses, pelts or frozen fish that are unsmoked, unseasoned and less than two years old.

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