30 November 2023

Tigers, meerkats and squirrel monkeys kicked off the countdown to Christmas on Thursday morning (November 30) - opening three very different advent calendars at London Zoo. 

Sumatran tiger cubs Zac and Crispin got paws-on in the seasonal frost, racing along a festive scent trail of cinnamon and nutmeg to find their advent tower - which they promptly pounced on - while the Bolivian black-capped squirrel monkey troop tested their agility as they foraged amongst hanging advent pouches for their favourite treats. 

Elsewhere, meerkats Penelope, Dracula and Frank woke up to their own unique calendar at the conservation zoo - searching behind 25 doors to find their favourite cricket snacks.  

The one thing they all had in common was their reluctance to observe the festive tradition of opening a single door each day.  

ZSL Zoological Operations Manager Dan Simmonds said: “It’s the season of giving and our keepers enjoyed sharing the Christmas spirit with the animals at London Zoo.  

“Marking the first day of advent, Critically Endangered tiger cubs Zac and Crispin loved sniffing out the festive spices in their advent tower - pouncing on the boxes at full speed - while the meerkats and squirrel monkeys foraged for their breakfast in hanging numbered snack bags and behind colourful doors.” 

“There may not be a chocolate in sight, but like most of us, the animals couldn’t resist opening just one door on this frosty morning.” 

A meerkat explores an advent calendar at London Zoo
Two Sumatran tigers with advent boxes at London Zoo

A ZSL conservation zoo, London Zoo is home to an incredible 386 species, many of which are threatened or extinct in the wild and part of vital conservation programmes. The conservation zoo participates in collaborative global breeding programmes - such as the Sumatran tiger breeding programme, which is managed by ZSL – working with zoos across the world to care for a healthy back-up population of some of the world’s most threatened species.

The perfect festive family day out this December, visitors can enjoy Christmas-themed animal talks, crafts and marshmallow toasting at The Magic of Christmas at London Zoo – taking place until 7 January.

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  • A group of Humboldt penguins on Penguin Beach in the snow
    The Magic of Christmas

    The Magic of Christmas

    Experience the magic of Christmas at London Zoo

  • Sumatran tiger Gaysha walking in her Tiger Territory home at London Zoo
    Panthera tigris tigris

    Sumatran tiger

    Sumatran tigers are smallest and rarest tiger, and they have the deepest orange colour of all the tiger subspecies.

  • Squirrel monkey baby at London Zoo
    Saimiri boliviensis

    Black-capped squirrel monkey

    Squirrel monkeys have the largest brain, proportionally, of all primates.

  • A meerkat at London Zoo
    Suricata suricatta

    Slender-tailed meerkat

    Despite their cute appearance, meerkat mobs are territorial and have a strict hierarchal infrastructure in which social positions can impact on an individual’s lifespan.

  • Visit our amazing animals at London Zoo
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