5 Animals That Would Love Your Used Christmas Tree

Stephanie Pilick, AFP/Getty Images
Stephanie Pilick, AFP/Getty Images

With Christmas now behind us, you might be thinking about taking down your tree soon. If you have a real tree, don’t be so quick to throw it out with the stale cookies and ripped wrapping paper, though. Many animals enjoy eating or playing with pine trees, so you may want to check with zoos or farms in your area to see if they’ll take it off your hands. Below, we’ve listed five animals that won’t turn down a tasty tree, as well as several locations that are currently accepting them. (But if you’re planning to donate, make sure to remove the tinsel and decorations first!)

1. Kangaroos

The North Georgia Zoo in Cleveland, Georgia is accepting donated Christmas trees for the “enrichment” of its kangaroos, porcupines, camels, wolves, and other furry residents. “Enrichment is a fancy word for entertainment,” Rachel Heck, visitor experience lead at the zoo, tells the Gainesville Times. “It keeps their minds stimulated.” Different animals use the trees in different ways, but kangaroos in particular like to grab and play with the branches, which are suspended above their enclosure. The zoo will accept trees until January 1 as long as they’re still green and chemical-free.

2. Goats

Goats will eat just about anything, and Christmas trees are no exception. The Lewis Farms & Petting Zoo in New Era, Michigan will happily accept Christmas trees until the end of January, which will be used to feed its goats. The pine needles are chock-full of Vitamin C and they also help control worms in the animals. Cindy Lewis, co-owner of the farm, tells the Detroit Free Press “The goats can devour a tree in a matter of minutes, they get very excited!”

3. Pigs

Much like goats, pigs also stand to benefit from snacking on pine trees, which serve as a natural dewormer. The Funny Foot Farm and Petting Zoo in Tucson, Arizona accepted leftover trees from a nearby tree farm, and zookeepers plan to feed them to their pigs and goats. Zoo officials say it also cuts down on their food bill, so everyone wins.

4. Otters

When you’re an otter, a Christmas tree is a fun obstacle course to climb through. That’s why caretakers at the Ellen Trout Zoo in Lufkin, Texas are accepting Christmas trees this holiday season. If you’re planning to make a donation, the zoo asks that you call first at 936-633-0399 before dropping off your tree.

5. Elephants

In recent years, The Elephant Sanctuary in Hohenwald, Tennessee has been giving resident elephants Christmas trees to munch on around the holidays. The trees supplement the elephants’ usual diet and provide an extra dose of nutrients, thanks to the sweet resin they contain. They also make a nice plaything, and you can watch an elephant tossing around a branch in the video above. The sanctuary will accept paint- and dye-free trees until January 2 at a designated drop-off point in the Sanctuary’s back parking lot.

FDA Recalls Several Dry Dog Foods That Could Cause Toxic Levels of Vitamin D

iStock.com/Chalabala
iStock.com/Chalabala

The FDA has recalled several brands of dry dog food that contain potentially toxic levels of vitamin D, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. While vitamin D is essential for dogs, too much of the nutrient can result in kidney failure and other serious health problems.

The FDA has already received reports of vitamin D toxicity in dogs that consumed certain dry foods. Pet owners are advised to stop using the following products:

Old Glory Hearty Turkey and Cheese Flavor Dog Food (manufactured by Sunshine Mills, Inc.)

Evolve Chicken & Rice Puppy Dry Dog Food (Sunshine Mills, Inc.)

Sportsman's Pride Large Breed Puppy Dry Dog Food (Sunshine Mills, Inc.)

Triumph Chicken & Rice Recipe Dry Dog Food (Sunshine Mills, Inc.)

Nature's Promise Chicken & Brown Rice Dog Food (Ahold Delhaize)

Nature's Place Real Country Chicken and Brown Rice Dog Food (Ahold Delhaize)

Abound Chicken and Brown Rice Recipe Dog Food (sold at Kroger in Louisville, Kentucky, as well as King Soopers and City Market stores in Colorado, Utah, New Mexico, and Wyoming)

ELM Chicken and Chickpea Recipe (ELM Pet Foods, Inc.)

ELM K9 Naturals Chicken Recipe (ELM Pet Foods, Inc.)

ANF Lamb and Rice Dry Dog Food (ANF, Inc.)

Orlando Grain-Free Chicken & Chickpea Superfood Recipe (sold at Lidl stores)

Natural Life Pet Products Chicken & Potato Dry Dog Food

Nutrisca Chicken and Chickpea Dry Dog Food

For the full list of UPC and lot numbers involved in the recall, visit the FDA's website.

Symptoms of vitamin D poisoning usually develop 12 to 36 hours after pets consume a suspect food, according to PetMD. The FDA says those symptoms include vomiting, loss of appetite, increased thirst, increased urination, excessive drooling, and weight loss. "Customers with dogs who have consumed this product and are exhibiting these symptoms should contact their veterinarian as soon as possible," the FDA writes.

The agency says the situation is still developing, and it will update the list of recalled brands as more information becomes available. According to WKRN News, veterinary professionals recommend sticking to dog foods that have an AAFCO label (from the Association of American Feed Control Officials) on them.

[h/t The Atlanta Journal-Constitution]

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