Tallinn Zoo's inhabitants enjoy Christmas down-time

One of Tallinn Zoo's meerkats.
One of Tallinn Zoo's meerkats. Source: ERR

The inhabitants of Tallinn Zoo are enjoying the peace and quiet the holiday break, and winter in general, offers them, due to the lower visitor numbers at this time of year.

At the same time, zoo staff have been getting creative in keeping the animals entertained, tailoring this to the species, ETV news show "Aktuaalne kaamera" (AK) reported Monday, with even Christmas celebrations of a sort taking place.

The zoo's meerkats were presented with a gift-wrapped box, and, while they were not expected to unwrap this box themselves, they didn't need to in any case – openings cut into it allow insects and other meerkat-friendly goodies to be placed inside, which the animals then pick out with their paws, Anne Saluneem, adviser at the zoo, told AK.

Meerkats are native to South Africa, Namibia and Botswana, so the cold weather in Estonia in winter means they have to be kept inside in the warm.

The snow itself can provide a diversion for many animals, too.

"We sometimes do something like this: When there is snow, for those animals we keep indoors, we either make snowballs or put the snow in a bowl, which creates so much fun for the animals to play around with inside, slurping it and spreading it around," she went on.

Following the holiday season, leftover Christmas trees are to be brought to Tallinn Zoo, located in Roca al Mare, to the west of the city center, which many animals like to roll around in, play about with etc.

Meanwhile, species which are particularly appreciative of the overall downtime include such diverse animals as elephants and hornbills.

"Of course, they get used to people, but in this enclosed space there can be a lot of noise, and it can get really crazy," zookeeper Erko Kiisel said.

The zoo nonetheless remains open to visitors, and humans, too, might appreciate the calmer environment.

Anne Saluneem said: "It's always worth taking a look at those animals that are not put off by the cold in winter; those that are kept outside. At the same time, it is also nicer to view those animals who are inside, due to the cold, as you can view them from inside too."

The zoo's website is here.

The original AK slot (in Estonian) is here.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte, Karin Koppel

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