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Your morning adorable: Merry Christmas to zoo animals

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Merry Christmas! Today, our own dogs will be unwrapping (with some help) their holiday gifts -- including some neat Three Dog Bakery treats that look good enough for us to eat -- and we suspect that many of your own pets have similar under-the-tree discoveries awaiting them. (A recent poll showed that more than half of dog and cat owners planned to buy holiday gifts for their pets, and even First Dog Bo Obama got his own Christmas stocking at the White House.)

But, as zoos around the world have demonstrated in recent days, companion animals aren’t the only ones who like to celebrate in style. Take these two African penguins (a species once referred to as ‘jackass penguins’ for the unusual braying noise they make), who receive Christmas presents each year courtesy of their keepers at Australia’s Taronga Zoo.

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The penguins aren’t alone -- after the jump, take a gander at the wide variety of animals enjoying the holidays right along with us this year.

At Germany’s Hannover Adventure Zoo, the meerkats got to open Christmas presents filled with snacks. (The London Zoo’s meerkats had a similar experience -- they received Christmas crackers filled with mealworms and locusts last week. We’d prefer a nice pumpkin pie, ourselves, but we suppose it’s the thought that counts.)

Jumilah, a Sumatran tiger, received a frozen delicacy of some sort from his keepers at the Taronga Zoo. And the gift is more than just a snack -- it’s also an integral part of the zoo’s behavioral enrichment program.

Ulu, a polar bear resident of the San Francisco Zoo, looks a bit skeptical of her Christmas tree-themed gift -- but she sure did enjoy another gift the zoo’s polar bears received this year. A local ice company donated 10 tons of ice, which was trucked to the zoo and chipped into ‘snowflakes’ that were used to make the bears feel more at home in their exhibit. It didn’t last long, but it was fun while it lasted!

It’s snacktime for wallabies! This little guy, another Taronga Zoo resident, is clearly enjoying the treats he received all wrapped up in brightly colored packages.

No, sea lion, you’ve got it all wrong! It’s a Christmas present, not a nose-balancing ball! This fellow, a Hannover Adventure Zoo resident, seems to be a bit confused by the concept of gift-giving, but it looks like he had a good time anyway. What more can one ask for at the holiday season?

-- Lindsay Barnett

Penguin photo: Jochen Luebke / European Pressphoto Agency. Meerkat photo: Stefan Simonsen / AFP/Getty Images. Tiger photo: Torsten Blackwood / AFP/Getty Images. Polar bear photo: Justin Sullivan / Getty Images. Wallaby photo: Cameron Spencer / Getty Images. Sea lion photo: Stefan Simonsen / AFP/Getty Images.


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