It was a cold festive night at Chester Zoo,

With presents piled high, we still had work to do.

We thought long and hard, and wrote the animals a letter,

What could Christmas bring to make life better?


At Ultimate, one of our standout projects from 2017 has been the Chester Zoo Christmas message. Aimed at the Zoo’s devoted staff, members and wider audience, it is their special thank you for all the support they’ve received throughout 2017. This has been a bumper year for the Zoo and they’ve had a lot of success to celebrate. As always, wildlife conservation is at the heart of the message.

Building upon the success of last year’s ‘A Christmas Tail’, which featured the adorable Chester the hedgehog and tied in with Wildlife Connections, this year there is a close link with The Lanterns creative campaign. Fortunately, we’d worked on that as well so we had a deep working knowledge of the Zoo’s vision and aims. The Lanterns campaign focused on the idea that animals have wants and desires, just like humans, but they can’t communicate them. At Christmas, we tend to think about what would improve our lives, so why shouldn’t we think about what Christmas could bring to make animals’ lives better? By encouraging children to write letters to Santa on behalf of the Zoo’s wildlife, we could subtly pass on some key conservation messages. 

With the 2017 Christmas message, we have been able to delve further into the featured animals’ festive wishes. Putting ourselves in the mind of a gibbon, flamingo, hyacinth macaw and insect, we thought long and hard about what they would truly desire for Christmas. This is where we were able to weave in that all important conservation message. For example, gibbons spend the vast majority of their day high up in the treetops, swinging from branch to branch, but they face a constant threat of habitat destruction. In our animation, we illustrated their swinging movement whilst emphasising the safety that the trees provide.

For the animation, we used the same illustration style as employed on The Lanterns. Almost craft-like and organic in appearance with an emphasis on distinctive brush strokes, these images are both eye-catching and beautiful. Once we had defined a story narrative, produced the illustrations and written the accompanying rhyme, it was over to our partners at Lion Eyes TV to piece it all together. As usual, they did an outstanding job that wonderfully captured our vision for this project.


And there it was! Glowing bright in the night,

Surrounded by animals, a truly magical sight.

With the letter delivered, we all joined together,

Thinking of our zoo, and how it makes life better.

Written by Anna Carruthers December of 2017