5 Animals That Would Love Your Used Christmas Tree

Stephanie Pilick, AFP/Getty Images
Stephanie Pilick, AFP/Getty Images

With Christmas now behind us, you might be thinking about taking down your tree soon. If you have a real tree, don’t be so quick to throw it out with the stale cookies and ripped wrapping paper, though. Many animals enjoy eating or playing with pine trees, so you may want to check with zoos or farms in your area to see if they’ll take it off your hands. Below, we’ve listed five animals that won’t turn down a tasty tree, as well as several locations that are currently accepting them. (But if you’re planning to donate, make sure to remove the tinsel and decorations first!)

1. Kangaroos

The North Georgia Zoo in Cleveland, Georgia, is accepting donated Christmas trees for the “enrichment” of its kangaroos, porcupines, camels, wolves, and other furry residents. “Enrichment is a fancy word for entertainment,” Rachel Heck, visitor experience lead at the zoo, tells the Gainesville Times. “It keeps their minds stimulated.” Different animals use the trees in different ways, but kangaroos in particular like to grab and play with the branches, which are suspended above their enclosure. The zoo will accept trees until December 31 as long as they’re still green and chemical-free.

2. Goats

Goats will eat just about anything, and Christmas trees are no exception. The Lewis Farms & Petting Zoo in New Era, Michigan, will happily accept Christmas trees until the end of January, which will be used to feed its goats. The pine needles are chock-full of Vitamin C and they also help control worms in the animals. Cindy Lewis, co-owner of the farm, tells the Detroit Free Press that “The goats can devour a tree in a matter of minutes, they get very excited!”

3. Pigs

Much like goats, pigs also stand to benefit from snacking on pine trees, which serve as a natural dewormer. Last year, the Funny Foot Farm and Petting Zoo in Tucson, Arizona, is accepted leftover trees from a nearby tree farm, which zookeepers fed to their pigs and goats. The Zoo is accepting donations this year; they asked that you remove tinsel before donating. Call (520) 399-6555 for more information.

4. Lions

At Lake Ariel, Pennsylvania’s Paws ‘N’ Claws Wild Animal Park—home to lions, warthogs, monkeys, giraffes, and many other animals—donated Christmas trees can serve as either a snack or as a toy. When lions woke up to find a tree in their enclosure in January 2019, “They got very excited,” head zookeeper Pamela Zoglino said. “They love new things like that.” Many of the cats use the trees as big scratching posts.

"It's good enrichment for the animals," lead animal keeper Carina Fabbricatore told a local ABC affiliate last year. "It gives them something to smell, rip apart, rub on, play with, drag around—just something to enrich their day." Claws ‘N’ Paws is closed for the season, but you can still donate your tinsel- and ornament-free tree (which must also be untreated) off in the parking lot any day between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.

5. Elephants

In recent years, The Elephant Sanctuary in Hohenwald, Tennessee, has given resident elephants donated Christmas trees to munch on around the holidays. The trees supplement the elephants’ usual diet and provide an extra dose of nutrients, thanks to the sweet resin they contain. They also make a nice plaything, and you can watch an elephant tossing around a branch in the video above. The Sanctuary is accepting trees this year until January 5; all trees must be free of pesticides, ornaments, and things like tinsel, and there's a five-tree limit per household.

This Innovative Cutting Board Takes the Mess Out of Meal Prep

There's no way any of these ingredients will end up on the floor.
There's no way any of these ingredients will end up on the floor.
TidyBoard, Kickstarter

Transferring food from the cutting board to the bowl—or scraps to the compost bin—can get a little messy, especially if you’re dealing with something that has a tendency to roll off the board, spill juice everywhere, or both (looking at you, cherry tomatoes).

The TidyBoard, available on Kickstarter, is a cutting board with attached containers that you can sweep your ingredients right into, taking the mess out of meal prep and saving you some counter space in the process. The board itself is 15 inches by 20 inches, and the container that fits in its empty slot is 14 inches long, 5.75 inches wide, and more than 4 inches deep. Two smaller containers fit inside the large one, making it easy to separate your ingredients.

Though the 4-pound board hangs off the edge of your counter, good old-fashioned physics will keep it from tipping off—as long as whatever you’re piling into the containers doesn’t exceed 9 pounds. It also comes with a second set of containers that work as strainers, so you can position the TidyBoard over the edge of your sink and drain excess water or juice from your ingredients as you go.

You can store food in the smaller containers, which have matching lids; and since they’re all made of BPA-free silicone, feel free to pop them in the microwave. (Remove the small stopper on top of the lid first for a built-in steaming hole.)

tidyboard storage containers
They also come in gray, if teal isn't your thing.
TidyBoard

Not only does the bamboo-made TidyBoard repel bacteria, it also won’t dull your knives or let strong odors seep into it. In short, it’s an opportunity to make cutting, cleaning, storing, and eating all easier, neater, and more efficient. Prices start at $79, and it’s expected to ship by October 2020—you can find out more details and order yours on Kickstarter.

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Fiona the Hippo Is Now on Cameo

Mark Dumont, Flickr // CC BY-NC 2.0
Mark Dumont, Flickr // CC BY-NC 2.0

Fiona the Hippo has earned her status as a celebrity. Born prematurely and weighing just 29 pounds in 2017, she became a sensation when she beat the odds and survived. Now, the Cincinnati Zoo's most beloved resident is taking her famous mug to Cameo.

Cameo is a service that allows fans to pay for personalized video messages from various celebrities. Most celebrities on the website are people, but that hasn't stopped Fiona from offering her star presence to the public.

For $100, you can request a custom video from the Cincinnati Zoo starring Fiona. A zoo staff member will recite the message while filming Fiona being adorable in her enclosure. One example video shows Fiona hanging out with her mom and snacking on some lettuce while her caretaker wishes the recipient a happy birthday.

Animal lovers who pay for a Cameo from Fiona will be supporting a good cause, too. Proceeds from the purchase will go to the Cincinnati Zoo, which is currently operating at limited capacity due to the COVID-19 pandemic. If you have a Cameo account, you can request your own video message for $100 here.

This isn't the first time the Cincinnati Zoo has used Fiona's popularity as a fundraising tool. Earlier this year, the zoo started selling the dung left behind by Fiona and other animals as garden fertilizer.