SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Here comes Santa Claus, riding into the Santa Barbara Zoo by train!
He got a head start delivering presents to the animals this year.
"I love the Santa Barbara Zoo! Ho ho ho!" Santa said.
Mr. Claus brought tasty treats to Monty and the other penguins in the exhibit as well as gifts for the turtles, meerkats and giraffes.
"I decided to start early this year since I have so much to do. I started at the Santa Barbara Zoo to make sure to get them their presents ahead of time so I have enough time for the kids on Christmas Eve," Santa explained.
Zoo staff members were also able to give their wishlists to Santa which included donations toward the zoo's COVID-19 recovery fund.
Zookeepers said it costs about $6,000 per week to feed the animals.
"Ticket sales, people coming to visit our zoo and all of that means it's 97% of our revenue. So we really ask for donations and help in any way that they can so we can continue to give our animals the amazing care that we really love to give them," said Santa Barbara Zoo Marketing Coordinator Dorian Edwards.
And not only does the zoo miss revenue from guest while closed, but the animals miss the people too.
"It's sad, there's so much joy around here at the zoo that people experience with their families, their friends and their children. And there's always such a great energy here. So to walk through and see it empty and that joy that's not happening for people is sad for us and the animals," Edwards said.
In the meantime, the Santa Barbara Zoo hopes Santa's visit will make the holidays a little brighter.
For more information and to donate to the zoo's COVID relief fund, click here.