Appeal for old Christmas trees for zoo animals to play with during January

PUBLISHED: 17:55 15 January 2020

Jeff Gunton and friends Lee O'Dea and Dave Jones loading up a truck full of christmas trees donated by residents in and around Weston Village.       Picture: MARK ATHERTON

Jeff Gunton and friends Lee O'Dea and Dave Jones loading up a truck full of christmas trees donated by residents in and around Weston Village. Picture: MARK ATHERTON

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A Weston Coastguard volunteer is calling on people across North Somerset to donate their old Christmas trees for animals to enjoy.

Lions with old Christmas trees. Picture: Noah's Ark Zoo FarmLions with old Christmas trees. Picture: Noah's Ark Zoo Farm

Jeff Gunton has asked for people to drop off their old trees at his house and he will deliver them to Noah's Ark Zoo Farm, in Wraxall.

On Saturday, Jeff and his friends Dave Jones and Lee O'Dea sent more than 40 trees to the zoo and he wants to make more trips in the coming weeks.

Jeff told the Mercury: "I saw the posts online and thought it made sense to recycle these trees instead of throwing them away on to a landfill.

Lions with old Christmas trees. Picture: Noah's Ark Zoo FarmLions with old Christmas trees. Picture: Noah's Ark Zoo Farm

"It's nice to give something back to the animals, especially with all the troubles in Australia with the bush fires resulting in so many animals to dying.

"The zoo has been great and were thankful for me organising these collections, I'm doing this out of the goodness of my heart.

"My own posts on Facebook have had a massive response from people so hopefully I can send more trees in during the month."

Jeff Gunton and friends Lee O'Dea and Dave Jones loading up a truck full of christmas trees donated by residents in and around Weston Village.       Picture: MARK ATHERTONJeff Gunton and friends Lee O'Dea and Dave Jones loading up a truck full of christmas trees donated by residents in and around Weston Village. Picture: MARK ATHERTON

The zoo has benefitted from an online case of mistaken identity over the festive period.

A mix-up in Facebook posts lead to a fortunate turn of events for the animals of Noah's Ark Zoo Farm after an American zoo called Noah's Ark Animal Sanctuary, based in Locust Grove in Georgia, posted a request for donations of unwanted Christmas trees.

After receiving an influx of old trees earlier this month, the zoo decided to take all the trees on this side of the pond and use them for animal enrichment.

Khan the tiger plays with a tree. Picture: Noah's Ark Zoo FarmKhan the tiger plays with a tree. Picture: Noah's Ark Zoo Farm

The zoo has received more than 1,000 donations of non-decorated, natural trees.

Larry Bush, the zoo's managing director, said: "Sustainability and being eco-friendly is really important and is a factor in everything we do.

"So, when the idea came about to recycle people's Christmas trees, it felt like it fitted with our ethos perfectly."

Jeff Gunton and friends Lee O'Dea and Dave Jones loading up a truck full of christmas trees donated by residents in and around Weston Village.       Picture: MARK ATHERTONJeff Gunton and friends Lee O'Dea and Dave Jones loading up a truck full of christmas trees donated by residents in and around Weston Village. Picture: MARK ATHERTON

The zoo will use the trees for months to come and visitors have been able to enjoy watching a wide range of animals playing with the trees, including Andean bears, red deer, chickens and lions.

Jeff has volunteered as a coastguard officer in Weston for more than eight years.

To donate unwanted Christmas trees, message Jeff on Facebook.

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