December 15, 2016 / 4:06 PM / 7 months ago

Tigers and meerkats enjoy seasonal treats at London zoo

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A meerkat looks for a Christmas treat in its enclosure at London Zoo, in London, Britain December 15, 2016.Hannah McKay

LONDON (Reuters) - Tiger cubs and meerkats at London zoo woke up to a feast of seasonal treats on Thursday - all designed to encourage them to use their natural talents.

Six-month-old Sumatran tiger cubs Achilles and Karis used their newly learned hunting skills to rip open their presents, while the meerkats foraged under the tree for treats of pinecone baubles stuffed with festive veg.

Slideshow (6 Images)

"We’ve come up with a variety of activities to encourage them to use their natural skills, like foraging or sniffing out their next meal," said the zoo's Mark Habben.

Sumatran tigers, whose habitat is the forests and jungles of Sumatra, Indonesia, are now classified as critically endangered.

Facing threats of poaching, habitat loss and human-conflict, they face a daily battle for survival. In the 1970s, there were estimated to be 1,000 Sumatran tigers in the wild, today’s figures say there are just 300.

Meerkats belong to the mongoose family. They live in all parts of the Kalahari Desert in Botswana, in much of the Namib Desert in Namibia and south-western Angola, and in South Africa.

A group of meerkats is called a mob, a gang or a clan.

Reporting by Stephen Addison; editing by Michael Holden

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