Animals at London Zoo got into the Christmas spirit by opening their advent calendars.

Lions, meerkats and squirrel monkeys kicked off the festive countdown by opening three very different advent calendars at the Regent's Park attraction.

Asiatic lions Arya and Bhanu followed a festive scent trail of cinnamon and nutmeg to a giant handmade calendar packed with meaty treats, while the Bolivian black-capped squirrel monkey troop tested their agility as they foraged amongst hanging pouches for their favourite snacks.Ham & High: Squirrel monkeys with their advent calendarSquirrel monkeys with their advent calendar (Image: ZSL)

Meanwhile, meerkats Meko, Penelope, Dracula and Frank searched behind doors to find tasty crickets. ZSL's Operations Manager Dan Simmonds said: “It’s the season of giving and our keepers enjoyed sharing the Christmas spirit with the animals at London Zoo."

ZSL is holding festive-themed animal talks, crafts and marshmallow toasting during The Magic of Christmas at London Zoo which runs until January  3.

And for a VIP experience there are magical festive sleepovers with the London Zoo Lodges’ Meet Santa Experience.

Running from December 16-23, families get an after-hours tour of London Zoo, a delicious two course meal, and a chance to meet Father Christmas himself who will visit each family bearing gifts.Ham & High: Gir Lion Lodges in the snowGir Lion Lodges in the snow (Image: ZSL)

The experience includes a tour of the Land of the Lions exhibit to find out how the Zoo's big beasts will celebrate Christmas, then a chance to make Christmas presents for the animals, and an after-dark tour to meet the Zoo's nocturnal creatures.

Visitors sleep in lodges within a whisker of the lions and may find themselves awoken by roars. After a hearty breakfast, they will deliver presents to the animals on a morning tour before the zoo opens for the day.Ham & High: London Zoo lion in the snowLondon Zoo lion in the snow (Image: ZSL London)

They can then spend the rest of the day exploring either London Zoo or Whipsnade in Bedfordshire as the experience includes two full days zoo entry.

But tickets for the London Zoo Lodges’ Meet Santa Experience at