Lovingly decorated by the keepers, the trees are placed in various enclosures a few days before Christmas, just in time for visitors capturing festive snaps of Hellabrunn. This year, delicious Christmas trees - large and small – were placed in the enclosures of the Dahomey dwarf cattle, takins, muntjac deer, baboons, rhinos, maned wolves, Visayan warty pigs, ibex and silvery gibbons. Every year it is exciting to see how the various animals react to their surprise gift - a Christmas tree decorated with treats. Will they be frightened by the conifer that suddenly appears in their enclosure or will they all immediately pounce upon the tree?

The first to receive their Christmas treat were the Dahomey dwarf cattle. The herd leader was so fascinated by the tree that as soon as the keepers finished decorating it, he ran straight towards it and pounced on the edible delights. There were similar reactions from the baboons: the excited troop wasted no time in taking their beautiful yuletide gift apart - after all, it was also decorated with bananas, leeks and other delicacies.

Niko, the bull rhinoceros, showed little interest and completely ignored the tree in his enclosure. But his female companion, Rapti, really liked the tree, especially the starfruit, lemons and tomatoes hanging from it. In her excitement, she knocked it over to better reach to the tasty treats.

The tree for the maned wolves was decorated with real fish, which was of course the first thing to be torn off and eaten with relish. The ibex, on the other hand, were somewhat more cautious: they waited until the group leader had inspected the tree – before finally digging into the appetising fruit and vegetable decorations. The silvery gibbons also received a Christmas tree, for the first time. The primates examined their tree with great interest and made light work of the cocktail tomato ornaments.

The beautifully decorated Christmas trees not only look good on festive snaps from Hellabrunn Zoo, they also serve as animal enrichment - after all, it's not every day that the animals receive such a tree loaded with tasty treats, which usually keeps them busy for some time. Some of the treats are hidden in boxes or sacks to make it more difficult to find the meal and encourage the animals to think and work for their food, just like they would in their native habitat.

Typically, shy animals such as the takins and muntjac deer tend to be more cautious about approaching their Christmas gifts than the baboons or siamangs. The latter usually clear their trees of all the delicious fruit and vegetable decorations within a few minutes. In the case of Hellabrunn’s elephant family, the way they receive their Christmas treat is quite different. The trees placed in their enclosure are not adorned, because they prefer to strip the branches of the leaves and will strip an entire tree within no time.

“It's nice to see the creativity and passion with which the animal keepers at Hellabrunn look after and bring joy to their charges at Christmas time. This is what makes our zoo in Munich such a special place. And so I warmly recommend that everyone visit the zoo at Christmas time,” says Verena Dietl, chair of the supervisory board and mayor.

Zoo director Rasem Baban adds: “As the year draws to a close, I would like to thank all of our visitors, fans, donors, sponsors, volunteers and all employees for their support and commitment and wish everyone a Merry Christmas.” Like every year, the animal residents at Hellabrunn Zoo will be treated to more trees after Christmas. These trees come from selected dealers and are pollutant-free, unsold specimens. We are unfortunately unable to accept disused Christmas trees from private households.

Christmas and New Year opening times at Hellabrunn Zoo are as follows:

  • 24 December (Christmas Eve):                    9 am – 4 pm
  • 25 December (Christmas Day):                     9 am – 5 pm
  • 26 December (Boxing Day):                         9 am – 5 pm
  • 31 December (New Year's Eve):                  9 am – 4 pm
  • 1 January (New Year's Day):                        9 am – 5 pm                                            
[Translate to English:] Zwei Tierpfleger beim Schmücken des Christbaumes für die Dahomey-Zwergrinder.
[Translate to English:] Copyright: Tierpark Hellabrunn / Jan Saurer
[Translate to English:] Ein Nashorn mit Christbaum.
[Translate to English:] Copyright: Tierpark Hellabrunn / Jan Saurer
[Translate to English:] Ein Muntjak mit Christbaum.
[Translate to English:] Copyright: Tierpark Hellabrunn / Jan Saurer
[Translate to English:] Ein Mähnenwolf mit Christbaum.
[Translate to English:] Copyright: Tierpark Hellabrunn / Jan Saurer