I can't believe we're putting the final touches to our Christmas events. It's a lovely end to the zoo year, and I know a fixture on many families' calendars.

The two worrying, disrupted years of lockdown really brought home how much the zoo means to the community and to many visitors' wellbeing.

So we celebrated being fully open again throughout 2022, by hosting even more events and activities, including the new kids' Ranger Days (then some for grown-up kids!).

Theme days are relaxed, interactive ways to welcome young and new visitors to the zoo, and introduce in a fun way many of the themes we're passionate about: wildlife conservation, climate threats, and the impact we can all have.

For example, the "Tea with Santa" afternoons will allow families to tour the zoo and 'paws' for more in-depth talks and feeding demonstrations in front of exhibits like the meerkats, snowy owls and snow leopards.

As well as both sides of the fence loving the extra attention, it gives us a chance to talk about these wonderful creatures in relation to the pressures on their contracting native environments.

Running for the first three weekends of December, and, for the first time in response to people's changing work patterns, Wednesday 21st as well, these bookable afternoon events are great fun for staff as well as visitors.

It's a great excuse to get messy making Christmas crackers for the meerkats, filled with treats for them to puzzle, tear and chew out of the safe packaging.

In fact, I'm keeping an eye out for the real Santa this year, as our baby dik dik antelope is so cute, I think even the big man himself might be tempted to trade Rudolph in!

With warming hot sausage rolls, sandwiches and drinks to round off the afternoon, it's a chance to give Santa letters and receive gifts, although there is usually one child I have to gently tell no, it's unlikely to be a gift-wrapped snow leopard!