MONROE, LA (KTVE/KARD)– While we use Christmas trees as decorations during the holidays, there are some critters at the local zoo who use them for more than just their looks. Donating your live tree will not only help reduce the waste in our community, but officials say animals will play and snack on them, too.

“It makes me happy to see them just full of energy and full of excitement,” said Olivia Larsen, Education Curator/ Louisiana Purchase Gardens and Zoo.

One man’s trash is another man’s treasure…or in this case a zoo animals’ new toy. The Louisiana Purchase Gardens and Zoo is taking donations of used Christmas trees for animal enrichment.

“The types of enrichment that we do includes play, which is what they are doing right now. That gives them the opportunity to hide and seek, we put treats in the tree and let them find them. That gives them a little bit of that mental exercise that they would get out in the wild,” said Larsen.

As you can see, these Baboons are going banana’s over the treats that were placed in their Christmas tree and this Cape Buffalo has found a new toy. Zoo officials say the animals love Christmas trees because it’s not something they get to see, smell, and taste very often.

“A lot of these animals do not get a chance to see our smell these types of trees so it is new and exciting for them,” said Larsen.

Around 8 million Christmas trees are thrown away after the holiday, officials say recycling them for our furry friends at the zoo is one of the best way you can leave an impact.

“The community can take part in making sure these animals are getting the experience they need since they are in captivity,” said Larsen.

If you would like to donate your tree to the zoo, you can call the number on your screen to get a time and date. Before you drop it off, make sure the tree is free of hooks, ordainments, paints, and chemicals.