SANTA Claus came early with the delivery of gifts and treats to Taronga Zoo’s animals today.
And like excited children, the Sydney zoo’s pride of lions tore their presents apart within seconds.
Giraffes, chimpanzees and kodiak bears also received early Christmas gifts.
The idea was to stimulate their natural curiosity and help them maintain their natural hunting abilities, Taronga officials said.
The lions’ brightly coloured boxes contained their favourite food – chunks of meat.
"Curiosity is important for any creature and we continually present different things to our animals such as new food items, puzzles from which they have to retrieve food or branches from other exhibits to arouse their senses," Taronga’s behavioural biologist Margaret Hawkins said.
"Being so close to Christmas we thought we’d add a festive touch to the activities."
The giraffes had a Christmas tree hung in their enclosure made of pine tree branches.
It was decorated with toys and sticky bottles containing molasses which the giraffes extracted with their long, blue tongues.
Santa left Taronga’s chimpanzees large Christmas-coloured iceblocks hidden throughout their exhibit, while the zoo’s kodiak bears feasted on custard and fruit pies.