Santa Claus delivers gifts to chimpanzees at Lion Country Safari

LOXAHATCHEE, Fla. - Christmas came early for some 'special boys and girls' at Lion Country Safari.

Santa Claus made a detour to the theme park to deliver some good cheer to the chimpanzees.

"I love it, can't wait, I'm so excited. It's something I always wanted to do since I moved to Florida twenty years ago," said Nancy Rockett as she waited for Santa to arrive.

She was among dozens of spectators who lined a moat to watch Old St. Nick sail over to the island where the animals live.

"These are some of my favorite Christmas duties, coming out here at Christmas time delivering all the presents to the chimpanzees," said Santa.

Unwrapping the gifts, which traditionally contain food and toys, helps stimulate the animals physically and mentally.

Santa almost fell into the water as he tossed one of the gifts.

"I think Santa's lost his sea legs since last year and almost fell... thought he was a better shot than he was and almost launched himself into the water," Santa said.

The jolly man in red has been visiting Lion Country at Christmastime for more than twenty years.

"And it's become, as you can see, something the public enjoys, all the children come here, the staff loves this and it's just good for everybody,"  said Lion Country Wildlife Director Terry Wolf.

Rockett said it was better than she expected. "They're such smart animals, I love them, they're beautiful," she said.

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