BAUBLES filled with mealworms are bringing some Christmas joy to the meerkat enclosure at West Midland Safari Park.

The park has ordered 350 trees to help transform the Discovery Trail as part of its Santa Safari event, with any surplus trees donated to the animals

But keepers were keep to ensure that the Christmas decorations served a greater purpose - by doubling as enrichment for the animals in their care.

For the meerkats, who are naturally inquisitive, smaller Christmas trees were planted in their enclosures and adorned with baubles filled with one of their favourite treats - mealworms.

Deputy head keeper Lisa Watkins said: "The keepers at West Midland Safari Park work hard to provide our animals with lots of varied enrichment, which is a way of encouraging natural behaviours.

"As Christmas is fast approaching, we wanted to offer the meerkats a festive treat, so the spare Christmas trees were a perfect choice and stopped them from going to waste too.

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“The trees provided our meerkats with lots of new textures and smells, plus also acted as an exciting new climbing frame to carry out sentry duty - when they climb somewhere high to look out for danger.

"We drilled small holes into the baubles and filled them with mealworms, which encouraged the meerkats to be physically and mentally active during the cold weather.

"They had to work at teasing the worms out of the holes, just like they would do in the wild, and also enjoyed digging at the base of the tree to try to topple it over."

The park's pair of Sumatran tigers Hujan and Nakal also enjoyed discovering the new smells and textures of their Christmas trees, with the added bonus of finding meat among the branches.

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Guests visiting the Santa Safari, which is running on select dates throughout December, might be lucky enough to spot other forms of festive enrichment around the park, including baubles for the penguins, bamboo decorations for the lorikeets and cardboard box presents for the lions.

The meerkats and tigers can be seen as part of the admission fee to the Santa Safari, which is £25 for adults, £20 for children aged three to 15, £9 for children under the age of three and £23 for concessions.

Admission includes a winter free return ticket and savings of up to 20 per cent can be made by booking in advance online at wmsp.co.uk.