Too many Christmas trees for Cambridgeshire's big cats

Tiger and Christmas trees Image copyright Shepreth WIldlife Park
Image caption One of Shepreth's tigers licks its lips as it approaches its new Christmas tree "toy"

Two Cambridgeshire zoos which usually need to appeal for donations of old Christmas trees for their big cats say they have been "inundated" with offers from garden centres.

The trees are "like catnip" to lions, said Kim Simmons at Linton Zoo.

Both Linton and Shepreth Wildlife Park usually ask people to give them trees but neither had to appeal this year.

Rebecca Willers from Shepreth said she had been offered more than 600 but had room for only 30 in the enclosures.

"We've not had to ask for trees this year as people have got to know that we always want them," she said.

"But we've never had so many before. Some garden centres were ringing us and offering 200 or 300 at a time."

Image copyright Shepreth Wildlife Park
Image caption The cats can play with the trees for about two months

The trees are used as toys for the cats but are also used in other enclosures to provide extra cover for animals such as red squirrels and pole cats.

They can survive for about two months before being chipped, although potted trees with roots are planted around the site.

Many of the garden centres were advised by Miss Willers to contact Linton Zoo, which has also appealed each year for trees for their lions.

However, its director, Miss Simmons, said they also had too many and while they were accepting a few from the public, they had also had to refuse the garden centres' offers.

"We have a bio-mass burner and we can use the trees in that, but we still have some left from last year," she said.

"It's lovely that people bring them, but it just shows how many trees are left over."

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