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What's inside? Meerkats get in the festive spirit at London Zoo

Frank the meerkat picks out door number 11 as a good starting point
Frank the meerkat picks door number 11 as a good starting point - Eddie Mulholland

Tiger cubs, meerkats and squirrel monkeys marked the beginning of advent at London Zoo by opening up the first door on their advent calendars - as well as the other 24 for some.

Sumatran tiger cubs, Zac and Crispin, sniffed out a trail of cinnamon and nutmeg weaving towards an advent tower, which they duly bashed into, sending the boxes flying.

Exhibiting more patience and dexterity, meerkats Penelope, Dracula and Frank poked and prodded at their Christmas tree-shaped advent calendar.

One box after another fell to the floor, with the festive contents of dried crickets proving too moreish for the meerkats to resist.

Tiger cubs Zac and Crispin taking part in some boxing
Tiger cubs Zac and Crispin tussle after opening all of their advent boxes - Eddie Mulholland
Meerkats going back for more helpings of crickets in blankets
Meerkats going back for more helpings of crickets - Alberto Pezzali

Nearby, Bolivian black-capped squirrel monkeys foraged for their favourite breakfast treats along a clothesline of hanging advent pouches.

Dan Simmonds, a zoological operations manager at ZSL, said: “It’s the season of giving and our keepers enjoyed sharing the Christmas spirit with the animals at London Zoo.”

He added: “There may not be a chocolate in sight, but like most of us, the animals couldn’t resist opening just one door on this frosty morning.”

Breakfast is served in a stocking to the squirrel monkeys
Breakfast is served for this squirrel monkey - Eddie Mulholland

London zoo is home to 386 species, many of which are threatened or extinct in the wild.

Many global breeding programmes take place at the zoo, including for the critically endangered Sumatran tigers.

Sumatran tigers, indigenous to Indonesia, are the rarest and smallest subspecies of tiger, with just 500-600 individuals left in the wild.

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