VIDEO: Animals get Christmas treat as zookeepers play Santa

Christmas has come early for the animals at Whipsnade Zoo as keepers surprised them with some delicious festive treats.

The curious chimpanzees were given a pile of colourfully wrapped presents to open, each stuffed with their favourite snacks such as fruit and nuts, adding a seasonal twist to their enrichment activities at the nearby zoo, which is the largest in the UK.

Chimps at the zoo tear open their Christmas presents

Chimps at the zoo tear open their Christmas presents

The sea lions also got into the holiday spirit with some festive, fishy gifts. Six-month-old sea lion pup Oscar is not yet weaned off milk, and keepers hoped the Christmas-themed ice treats would help introduce him to fish for the first time.

Zookeeper Stephen Perry said: “Animals like chimpanzees and sea lions are really inquisitive by nature and enjoy investigating new things.

“The chimps and sea lions have definitely made it onto Santa’s nice list this year, and I’m sure they’ll love their Christmas treats.”

From this Saturday through to Christmas Eve, visitors can prepare their own gifts for the chimpanzees at an interactive Elves’ Workshop as well as learn all about the zoo’s herd of reindeer at a special Christmas talk.

Present bags were filled with the chimps' favourite treats like fruit

Present bags were filled with the chimps' favourite treats like fruit

Whipsnade is open to visitors all year round except Christmas Day.

'I want both' chimp weighs up which one to open first

'I want both' chimp weighs up which one to open first

This chimp took his present off for a bit of privacy

This chimp took his present off for a bit of privacy

The chimps gather around the big pile of presents

The chimps gather around the big pile of presents

The sea lions had special fishy "ginger bread men"

The sea lions had special fishy "ginger bread men"