Christmas has come early at the zoo.

The animals at Drusillas Zoo Park, near Alfriston, must have been extra good this year because Father Christmas decided to deliver their presents ahead of schedule.

Lynx, anteaters, yellow-throated martens, capybaras and capuchin monkeys all woke to find gift-wrapped goodies on Monday.

Rather than toys and games, their presents contained all kinds of delicious things to eat, like crickets, worms, oil, fish, beef and vegetables.

The animals couldn’t wait to open their gifts and excitedly tore through the wrapping to discover the tasty treats inside.

Luis the capuchin monkey was so excited by opening his present that his joyful chirps could be heard throughout the zoo.

The zoo keepers said presenting the food in unusual ways like this helps to keep animals’ minds and bodies stimulated and forms part of the daily enrichment activities at Drusillas.

Senior keeper Jacinta Dawe said: “It made everyone here smile to see how much the animals enjoyed interacting with their gifts. While I’d rather not open a gift containing worms these foods would have been top of our animals' Christmas lists.  

“Opening up their Christmas gifts formed part of this week’s enrichment programme for our animals, which is a daily activity we offer which presents food or exercise in a new way to help stimulate our animal’s problem-solving abilities and keep their minds and bodies active. Watching the animals tear into the presents made us all even more excited for Christmas morning.”

Keepers still have to carry our their normal routines on Christmas Day.

Although the zoo will be closed to visitors, a small team of dedicated keepers will arrive before sunrise to make sure the zoo’s 800 residents have been fed, cleaned and watered just like any other day.

Jacinta added: “Lots of people ask what Christmas Day is like at the zoo, but it’s actually pretty much like any other day for us. We still have to make sure everyone is happy and healthy so we’ll still be here in our wellies getting mucky, but we wouldn’t have it any other way – our animals are family to us."