Linton Zoo lions play with old Christmas trees

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Media captionUsed Christmas trees are taken to the lions' den at Linton Zoo in Cambridgeshire to the delight of the animals.

Lions at a Cambridgeshire zoo are being given old trees to play with as a post-Christmas treat.

Real Christmas trees are "like catnip" to lions, Linton Zoological Gardens' director Kim Simmons said.

The trees are used as toys by the big cats while others are used in the zoo's bio-burner to provide additional heating for the buildings.

People have been dropping off individual trees and a number of nurseries have donated unsold ones.

Image copyright Linton Zoo
Image caption The Christmas trees are also used for the zoo's green energy production
Image copyright Linton Zoo
Image caption Zuri has become quite attached to his giant scratching post
Image copyright Linton Zoo
Image caption Local nurseries have given unsold Christmas stock to the zoo for recycling

Catnip, sometimes known at catmint, is a plant of the mint family and can cause many cats euphoria.

"We've already had quite a few trees coming in, which are giving the lions hours of fun," Miss Simmons said.

Christmas trees that still have a root ball are being re-planted in a small meadow area of the zoo and in the snowy owl enclosure.

Image copyright Linton Zoo
Image caption The "recycling" gives the big cats "hours of fun", said Linton Zoo

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