Christmas Celebrations In Full Spirit At Wildlife SOS Centres

December 27, 2022 | By Neellohit Banerjee
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It’s no secret that winters and holiday season go hand-in-glove. ’Tis also the time when the jovial atmosphere of the festive season transforms us and the chill in the air calls for wrapping ourselves in jackets, scarves and blazers. Overwhelmed by the merry environment the end of the year brings, the staff at the Treatment Unit of the Elephant Conservation and Care Centre were working to create something special for our resident elephants!

The staff at the elephant facility went creative to prepare a grand feast. [Photo (c) Wildlife SOS/Mradul Pathak]
Lakshmi was seen enjoying the arrangements against the backdrop of the star-shaped structure made with bamboo and leaves. [Photo (c) Wildlife SOS/Mradul Pathak]

The caregivers put in tireless labour and went to great lengths to construct a star-shaped structure made of bamboo and leaves, keeping with the theme of Christmas. Additionally, a jumbo feast was also prepared with pumpkins and watermelon. The pumpkins were then carved open to fill them with popcorn and peanuts inside. These acted as perfect treats and enrichments for resident elephants Ginger and Lakshmi. Both the elephants were seen relishing and enjoying the feast in the backdrop of the Christman-themed bamboo structure.

Ginger was relishing the feast prepared with care and compassion by the elephant caregivers. [Photo (c) Wildlife SOS/Mradul Pathak]

Meanwhile, at the Agra Bear Rescue Facility, something festive was brewing too. The caregivers toiled for three days to prepare an eco-friendly Christmas tree without the use of any plastic or paper! The all-organic tree was created using only natural ingredients with bamboo, fruits and leaves. Additionally, seasonal fruits such as apples, guava, watermelon, papaya and jaggery soaked rice puff and peanut balls were hung from the tree as well as from temporary wooden log enrichments.

An all-organic Christmas tree was created using only natural ingredients. [Photo (c) Wildlife SOS/Mradul Pathak]
The bears did a perfect job of demolishing the tree. [Photo (c) Wildlife SOS/Mradul Pathak]

These arrangements were laid out in three separate enclosures shared by different bears. The first one was Elvis, Rose and Bintha’s followed by Gambhir, Digit and Valmiki in the second enclosure, and finally Kabilan, Kanmani and Champa in the third one. The excited bears were quick to bring down the structures, with Elvis taking the credit for the ones in the first enclosure. Following in his footsteps were Champa and Digit who took up the demolition duties in their own enclosures!

Seasonal fruits such as apples, guava, watermelon, papaya and jaggery soaked rice puffs and peanut balls were hung from the tree. [Photo (c) Wildlife SOS/Mradul Pathak]

Down south at the Bannerghatta Bear Rescue Centre (BBRC) in Bangalore, the staff went the extra mile to surprise our resident Sloth bears. The caregivers first sliced up fruits such as pomegranates, apples, papaya, and pineapple, which were places in separate boxes. One of the caregivers then dressed up as Santa Claus himself, bringing in the treat boxes in his figurative sleigh and placing them in the enclosures. Soon the bears came running to inspect each of the boxes, and they eventually tore them apart to relish the fresh fruits inside!

One of the caregivers at BBRC turned Santa himself to surprise the bears. [Photo (c) Wildlife SOS/Lenu Kannan]
The treat boxes were laid out across the enclosures for the bears to enjoy. [Photo (c) Wildlife SOS/Lenu Kannan]

The innovation and creativity of the caregivers as well as the bears at BBRC went soaring through the roof! The enclosures were bedecked with gorgeous Christmas-themed decor items such as baubles and streamers. Once the bears were done eating the fruits, they started fiddling with the baubles. A hanging structure resembling a Christmas tree was also suspended from a rope above. The structure was made purely with hay, and was dotted with baubles and bundles of grapes. One of the bears toppled the entire tree to grab the juicy grapes! 

Once the bears were done eating the fruits, they started playing with the baubles. [Photo (c) Wildlife SOS/Lenu Kannan]

While the festive arrangements brought cheer to our bears and elephants, the leopards at the Manikdoh Leopard Rescue Centre in Maharashtra were having a jolly time as well! The caregivers prepared a food-based enrichment where they placed pieces of meat inside boxes, gift-wrapped them and laid them out inside the enclosures. George, a young male leopard, seemed especially thrilled to see the box, and he concentrated entirely on tearing it down to reach his precious gift that was lying in wait.

Enrichments are a scientific way to keep our wilder friends active, and they are also a fun and encouraging way for the animals under our care to heal and recuperate well from their traumatic past. To organise and witness the season’s celebrations with the leopards, bears and elephants under our care has been pure joy, as is sharing their enthusiasm with you. You can help our animals enjoy future occasions with the same zeal by becoming a monthly donor to Wildlife SOS. Watch us turn your support into magic!

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