Despite the headlines and social media posts urging people to donate their live Christmas trees to zoos, the Utica Zoo is politely asking residents to please take their trees elsewhere.

Now that Christmas is over, some may be wondering how they can ethically dispose of their live trees instead of unceremoniously pitching them in the dump.

In recent years, ideas of donating the trees to zoos and animal sanctuaries have grown in popularity because Christmas trees can be used as animal enrichment. Who doesn't like the idea of making a wild animal obscenely happy?

But before you strap your tree to the roof of your car and head on over to the Utica Zoo, officials there would like the community to know they're all set for this year.

Trees = Enrichment

More than 33 million live Christmas trees are cut down to be propped up in living rooms across America. While they look dazzling during the holidays, the question then turns to how to get rid of it once the sun rises on December 26th.

My family really didn't have this problem because we had a flock of guinea hens, so once we took off the last ornament, my dad would drag it to their coop for them to enjoy. The birds would enjoy the tree for enrichment and warmth.

Once the birds were done with it, we threw it in the back of the truck and hauled it to the dump.

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Maybe that is why in recent years, there's been an increasing call for Americans to recycle their real Christmas trees by giving them to sanctuaries and zoos so their animals can play with them.

Videos have gone viral showing creatures like lions, elephants, monkeys and more discovering the joy of having their own tree. And while the Utica Zoo has lions, monkeys, camels and beyond - they won't be needing trees from the community.

Mother Zecora and her new baby photographed in August 2022 (via Utica Zoo on Facebook)
Mother Zecora and her new baby photographed in August 2022 (via Utica Zoo on Facebook)

WIBX spoke with Allie Snyder, the Director of Communications and Engagement, and she explained Lowe's has already stepped up and is generously donating enough trees for all the animals to enjoy.  Because of this, the public is being politely asked to not donate their used Christmas tree to the zoo.

Places That Will Take in Your Tree

Just because the zoo isn't accepting donations, that doesn't mean others aren't happy to take that tree off your hands.

The Onondaga County Resource Recovery Agency (OCRRA) has a whole page dedicated to where and how to recycle your Christmas tree:

"Real" Christmas trees are accepted at OCRRA's Amboy and Jamesville Compost Sites during special hours Monday through Friday, Jan. 2 - 12 (excluding weekends), from 7:30 a.m. - 3:30 p.m.

There is no cost to drop off a tree; you do not need a Compost Site Pass to drop a tree off.

Real trees are used to create mulch for gardens and landscaping. That is why it is so important to REMOVE all decorations, lights, tinsel, stands, and plastic bags from trees prior to dropping them off at either site.

Additionally, the Oneida-Herkimer Solid Waste Authority has a webpage about how to recycle real Christmas trees. The authority will accept trees starting January 3 and will chip them up to be used as compost for area gardeners in the spring.

Credit- Salvation Army of Utica
Credit- Salvation Army of Utica

Madison County's Waste Management also provides a tutorial on how to correctly dispose of a live Christmas tree and offers a list of places willing to take in drop-offs this year.

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In all, don't be upset that your tree can't go to the Utica Zoo. There are plenty of options to give your tree a second life all while giving back to the community.

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