West Palm Beach – On Thursday, December 17, 2020 at 10:30a.m., Lion Country Safari will celebrate its annual Christmas with the Chimps. During this event, Santa delivers presents by boat to the park’s chimpanzees. This year, Christmas with the Chimps is being offered as a premium experience with limited capacity and requires advance registration. Attending guests are permitted out of their vehicles in the last section of the preserve to join in the festivities. A portion of the proceeds from each reservation will be donated to support conservation efforts to help save chimps in the wild.
For the 36th year, Santa Claus has taken a hiatus from the North Pole to deliver gifts including edible treats, stuffed animals, clothes and enrichment-themed activities to the chimps. “Our chimpanzee residents really look forward to our annual Christmas with the Chimps event. They know that Santa and our Lion Country Safari guests will be visiting them when they see us start to set up Observation Island the day prior to the event, and they get so excited! We know that they’re really happy because chimpanzees express their emotions in a variety of ways—happiness, for example, is often conveyed through smiles, enthusiastic hugs, and loud vocalizations called ‘pant hoots.’ You’ll see plenty of these natural chimpanzee behaviors during our annual Christmas with the Chimps event, so come out and visit us on safari!,” says Curator of Conservation, Research, and Chimpanzees Dr. Tina Cloutier Barbour.
This year, Lion Country Safari is also working with Little Smiles charity to host a family for the event. “Little Smiles helps heal hearts and create little smiles by providing gifts and fun activities to children impacted by serious illness, homelessness, or tragedy.” Learn more about Little Smiles at littlesmilesfl.org.
Chimpanzees, currently classified as endangered due to a population decrease across Africa, face a number of threats to their existence, including the deforestation and mining associated with coltan production. Coltan is a mineral mined by hand in the Democratic Republic of Congo and is used in phones, tablets, and other small electronics. In celebration of Christmas with the Chimps, Lion Country Safari has offered 4 complimentary event admissions to a member of the community who donated the most cell phones and small electronics. Lion Country Safari will see that these electronics are recycled so the coltan can be reused, thereby slowing the rate of deforestation of great ape habitat!