Hungry sheep munch tree branches set up for endangered monkeys at zoo in Austria

This is the moment hungry sheep munched on the branches of a Christmas tree that zookeepers had set up for some endangered monkeys by decorating it with edible decorations.

The incident took place at the Schoenbrunn Zoo in the Austrian capital Vienna, when zookeepers set up this Christmas tree for the zoo’s endangered Barbary macaques (Macaca sylvanus).

The zoo said in a statement: ‘When the Barbary macaques in Schoenbrunn Zoo are surprised with a Christmas tree, paprika rings and nut packs are in demand. The tree decorations of a different kind were a small pre-Christmas surprise for the zookeepers.’

Zookeeper Marko Ascher said: ‘The Barbary macaques immediately pounced on the peppers and fetched the nuts wrapped as gifts from the tree – a welcome change for our animals. The cleared fir tree was then a treat for the Barbary sheep.’

The footage shows the sheep then chewing on the fir tree’s branches after the monkeys cleaned it of its decorations.

The zoo said that ‘in the end, almost nothing was left of the tree’.

Barbary macaques have been sharing a home with the Barbary sheep at the zoo for over 25 years.

Since September 2021, they have been living together in their new, significantly larger home, which has been modelled on their region of origin, the North African Atlas Mountains.

Zoo director Stephan Hering-Hagenbeck said: ‘The animals have already settled in well. The diverse rocky landscape offers them many climbing and workout opportunities. In the meantime, every animal has found its own personal favourite place in the facility.’