WATCH: The animals at Belfast Zoo got a special festive surprise this week

The animals at Belfast Zoo enjoyed opening up their Christmas presents earlier this week.

The two elderly rescue elephants, meerkats and penguins excitedly tore open their gifts to find out what their zookeepers had got for them this year!

The zoo’s staff wrapped up animal enrichment gifts in boxes for the residents, who were definitely on Santa’s ‘good list’.

A group of meerkats were seen eagerly rummaging through their boxes, which were filled with tasty mealworms.

Dhunja and Yhetto, the zoo’s elephants, made short work of their gifts, which were boxes stuffed with hay, apples and carrots.

The zoo’s gentoo penguins were also treated to bright red boxes, which they were a little wary of at first, but curiosity soon took over.

Acting zoo manager, Andrew Hope, commented: “Animals often tend to get excited whenever they discover something new in their home.

“Some animals dig into their gifts straight away, such as the meerkats and the elephants, whereas some are a little more reserved and inquisitive, like the penguins.

“You never quite know what way an animal will respond and it can often be quite funny to see them getting excited.

“Providing the animals with items that they don’t regularly receive, such as colourful wrapped boxes, helps to physically and mentally stimulate the animals.

“This type of enrichment is used to help keep the animals happy and healthy as it encourages natural behaviour and provides stimulation.”

Visitors can catch more of the animals getting their Christmas treats over two weekends in December (11-12 and 18-19 December).

Kids go free (one free child admission with every paying adult)for the month of December too so there couldn’t be a better time to grab your woolly hats and plan your next trip to Belfast Zoo!