Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Christmas trees get a second use

A tiger explores a tree-tunnel at ZooMontana
Jeff Ewelt, ZooMontana
A tiger explores a tree-tunnel at ZooMontana

Christmas trees are being given a second life at ZooMontana in Billings.

Natural trees will be recycled into mulch for the zoo and the Montana Audubon Center for trails.

But before that, Zoo Director Jeff Ewelt says the trees serve another purpose.

“We use them as enrichment here at the zoo. The animals really enjoy playing with them. And in fact, I was just watching our new cubs playing with them yesterday. They were kind of throwing it around and we hang fruit off of it and kind of use it as a toy. The other great thing is our curator every year always makes a big, almost like tunnel of trees and our tigers absolutely love not only sitting in them, but then destroying that, that shelter as well," Ewelt said.

 Visitors can drop off natural trees at a designated area along the irrigation ditch at the zoo.

It is essential that all decorations, lights, plastic bagging and stands are removed from the trees before disposal. Flocked and plastic trees cannot be used.

Other cities, including Bozeman, Helena, Missoula and Great Falls also collect trees to be composted or used to improve fish habitat.

Check with your city’s solid waste department for local opportunities to contribute to sustainability efforts and give the trees a new purpose after the holiday season.

Orlinda Worthington hosts “Morning Edition” weekdays on YPR. She brings 20 years of experience as Montana television news anchor, producer, and reporter.