A German Zoo May Have Found The Coolest Way To Recycle Your Christmas Tree

Stretch out the season's magic with this tip.

O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree, how tasty are thy branches? Believe it or not, as reported by MentalFloss, elephants love munching on fir, spruce, and pine trees; and a lucky few get to feast on Christmas trees every yuletide season.

Some of these elephants call Tierpark Berlin home. The 400-acre zoo in the German capital boasts more than 7,000 animals, but this annual feeding has become one of its biggest attractions. Every year around New Year's Day, the staff delivers unsold and pesticide-free pine trees to Louise, Pantha, Kewa, and the other pachyderms — and the kangaroos, zebras, donkeys, and horses at the zoo get to enjoy the trees, too.

In 2016, Tierpark zookeeper Mario Hammerschmidt told the Associated Press the trees are "a good supplement to the food the elephants get during winter time." Apparently, the resin in the trees is rich in nutrients.

"Christmas trees are a welcome bit of variety for our elephants," Tierpark director Dr. Andreas Knieriem added in a feature on the zoo's website. "On the one hand, they provide entertainment for the animals, and on the other hand, they really mix up their diet. At the end of the day besides hay, bread, vegetables, and fruit there's only pine, spruce, and fir trees in January."

Meanwhile, The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee — located in Hohenwald, Tenn. — has also gotten in on the holiday fun. The 10 elephants there actually enjoy used Christmas trees donated by locals. 

The Sanctuary's elephant habitats are closed to the public — since its a true sanctuary for these animals — but its website says that "Caregivers will deliver the donated trees to the habitats to provide enrichment and supplement the elephants' decreased foraging opportunities during the winter months." This is the second year the Sanctuary has held a Christmas tree drive, and it is open for donations until Jan. 2.

"The purpose of this program is to not only provide the elephants with more variety to their diet but to also allow the public to donate and connect to the elephants," Lead Caregiver Kristy E. says on the website.

These Christmas tree feedings represent just one way humans are caring for these magnificent creatures. Officials in China, Kenya, and Mali are cracking down on ivory poachers, for example; Ellen DeGeneres is asking fans everywhere to #BeKindToElephants amid a proposed reversal of an elephant trophy ban; and even Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus has retired all of their elephant performers. With these efforts, perhaps there's hope elephants everywhere will not only just a merry Christmas but also a happy new year.


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