Old Christmas trees serve new purpose at Minnesota Zoo

Old Christmas trees are serving an important purpose at the Minnesota Zoo, particularly as we move into spring time.

As families and friends check out the furry creatures that call the zoo home, some people are spotting unexpected reminders of Christmas.

“It definitely comes up: ‘why is a Christmas tree randomly… did it fall? Did they break it?’” said Terah Grace with the Minnesota Zoo.

Grace takes care of the animals, and part of her job includes throwing unsold Christmas treeS--donated to the zoo from local businesses--into many of the animals’ habitats for what’s called “enrichment.”

“We don’t always talk about it, but setting up an animal’s habitat to be emotionally and physically stimulating for them is ‘animal enrichment',” Grace said.

Zoo volunteer Natalie Stephens said she enjoys watching the animals.

“It’s always kind of cool to see how they react to it,” Stephens said.

Stephens said all of the animals use them, including snakes, monkeys, moose, caribou, tigers and more. They use them for toys, for food, or to scratch itchy antlers.

“To see the trees, it’s wonderful the animals can feel the stimulation,” zoo guest April Taylor said.

Though the zoo is running low on Christmas trees, they'll be getting more from the State Fair after the fair ends.