Santa's special delivery to monkey den
The staff at Brooklands Zoo are making sure everyone gets in on the spirit of Christmas - even Crystal the 46-year-old capuchin monkey.
Christmas-themed treats such as pinecones coated in nuts and seeds, dried apple, and strings of natural popcorn were placed around the zoo's primate enclosures yesterday, much to the delight of the inhabitants.
The capuchin monkeys had discovered all of the carefully-arranged treats within minutes of being released from their den, including wrapped presents which were promptly shredded.
Dominant male capuchin Crumpy didn't bat an eyelid when confronted by a large papier-mache reindeer that had appeared in his domain.
Crumpy swiftly tore off the intruder's antlers.
Brooklands Zoo assistant curator Eve Cozzi said there was a hierarchical order in the capuchin community, and 46-year-old Crystal, as the lowest ranking, had to wait until Crumpy had inspected the treats before she got her turn.
The high-energy Bolivian squirrel monkeys also took great joy in discovering their treats, although momentarily forgot their manners when it came to the dried apple.
"They are just like kids, there are enough items for all of them but they have to fight over one," Ms Cozzi said.
It wasn't just the primates who enjoyed Christmas treats - the birds in the free flight enclosure had citrus fruit with cloves and the farm animals were given red-and-green iceblocks.
"We remember all of the animals," Ms Cozzi said.
The keepers had been busy creating original ways to display the treats, even decorating enclosures with branches of pohutukawa.
The animals were provided with different foods on a regular basis to help with their general wellbeing, Ms Cozzi said.
"We create enrichment that gives them a chance to interact with it. It helps encourage natural behaviours and keeps them stimulated," she said.
The zoo is open every day except Christmas Day, and there will be Christmas-themed items located in various enclosures for the rest of the week.
Taranaki Daily News