The creatures are stirring: London zoo's animals get Christmas treats

LONDON, Dec 14 (Reuters) - Asiatic lions, squirrel monkeys and penguins were among the denizens of London Zoo to get a feast of seasonal treats on Thursday, all designed to allow them to use their natural skills.

The zoo's lionesses Heidi, Indi and Rubi woke to a pile of gift-wrapped cardboard boxes which they delighted in ripping apart with their claws. The monkeys found festive stockings filled with treats hanging from the climbing ropes in their enclosure.

"We’ve come up with a variety of activities to encourage them to use their natural skills, like foraging or sniffing out their next meal," Zoological Society of London manager Mark Habben said in a statement.

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London Zoo animals celebrate Christmas
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London Zoo animals celebrate Christmas
Squirrel Monkeys in London Zoo look for treats inside a Christmas stocking in their enclosure in London, Britain December 14, 2017. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
A keeper feeds the penguins beside a Christmas tree at London Zoo, in London, Britain, December 14, 2017. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne
A keeper feeds the penguins beside a Christmas tree at London Zoo, in London, Britain, December 14, 2017. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne
Squirrel Monkeys in London Zoo look for treats inside a Christmas stocking in their enclosure in London, Britain, December 14, 2017. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne
A Squirrel Monkey in London Zoo looks for treats inside a Christmas stocking in its enclosure in London, Britain, December 14, 2017. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne
Squirrel Monkeys in London Zoo look for treats inside a Christmas stocking in their enclosure in London, Britain, December 14, 2017. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne
A Lioness opens up her Christmas presents in her enclosure at London Zoo, in London, Britain, December 14, 2017. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne
A Lioness opens up her Christmas present in her enclosure at London Zoo, in London, Britain, December 14, 2017. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne
A Lioness opens up her Christmas present in her enclosure at London Zoo, in London, Britain, December 14, 2017. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne
Squirrel Monkeys in London Zoo look for treats inside a Christmas stocking in their enclosure in London, Britain, December 14, 2017. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne
An Squirrel Monkey in London Zoo looks for treats inside a Christmas stocking in it's enclosure in London, Britain, December 14, 2017. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne
A Lioness opens up her Christmas present in her enclosure at London Zoo, in London, Britain, December 14, 2017. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne
A Lioness jumps to open up her Christmas presents in her enclosure at London Zoo, in London, Britain, December 14, 2017. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne
A Lioness opens up her Christmas present in her enclosure at London Zoo, in London, Britain, December 14, 2017. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne
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Asiatic lions are from India's Gujarat province and are classified as endangered, with only several hundred of the animals believed to remain in the wild.

They used to inhabit areas from across Asia - from Turkey to eastern India - but the development of firearms meant that they were hunted to near-extinction for sport.

Today, the wild lions face the threats of poaching and territorial encroachment, as land in their habitat is taken over and used to grow crops or raise cattle. (Writing by Mark Hanrahan in London Editing by Jeremy Gaunt)

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