Tasmania Zoo’s residents celebrate Christmas with presents, food

For Tasmania Zoo manager Rochelle Penney, Christmas incorporates different traditions to the standard present opening, carol listening and roast lunch-eating days of most Australians. 

Living onsite at the zoo means she has the added responsibility of feeding Christmas lunch to every animal onsite, before helping feed her own biological family. 

Mrs Penney said her role gave her and her family a fun but unorthodox Christmas experience. 

“We have three different shifts that work on Christmas day - morning, midday and afternoon,” she said.

“I'll be here looking after the animals then head off for Christmas [lunch] and back again later this afternoon.​

“All the animals are cared for and get some extra treats.

“But really, every day is Christmas at the zoo.”

Included among the litany of animals at the Riverside complex are two new arrivals – two marmosets born on Christmas Eve. 

The baby Christmas monkeys celebrated their first Christmas by hanging very tight to their mum’s back.

Marmosets are known as the smallest type of monkey in the world and are native to Brazil. 

The dominant female marmoset in the clan will usually fall pregnant just ten days after giving birth, according to Mrs Penney.

This means more marmosets are expected very soon.

Mrs Penney’s daughter Roxy was also on-hand to help feed the marmoset clan and welcome the new arrivals on Christmas.

Ten-year-old Roxy has grown up living at the park, and gets to share her holiday season with scores of furry friends at the zoo. 

“It's really fun [having Christmas at the zoo] – I get to play with animals,” she said.

“Baby devils are my favourite animals to play with.”

However, some parts of the holiday are the same for Roxy as for many other kids throughout the country.

Her favourite part of Christmas? 

“Getting and giving presents,” Roxy said. “This year my favourite present was a TV.”

Staff at Tasmania Zoo have worked hard to bring some Christmas cheer to the park over the last two weeks by celebrating the 12 days of Christmas via social media and at the zoo.

This involved Tasmanian devils and wombats donning Christmas coats and dressing up in festive fashion for the cameras.

Mrs Penney also wanted to remind people that Christmastime was not an ideal opportunity to give animals as pets.

“It’s really not a good idea to give animals as presents, because they're a very long term commitment and it needs to be for all the right reasons, and not as a present,” she said.

The Examiner

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