CBEEBIES stars kickstarted Dudley Zoo and Castle’s Christmas festivities as they welcomed Santa to his grotto.

Santa was greeted at the Castle Hill attraction by children’s TV presenters Evie Pickerill and Gyasi Sheppy, who are both starring in Wolverhampton Grand Theatre’s pantomime Snow White.

Dudley Zoo’s media and communication officer, Rachel Hickman said: “Over the last few weeks the inside of the 11th century castle has been magically transformed into ‘The Chronicles of Dudley Zoo’, complete with a lion, a witch and a wardrobe.

“As the local partner of the Grand Theatre’s pantomime, we were delighted Evie and Gyasi, alongside reindeer Lily and Sunflower, were able to help us declare this year’s grotto officially open.

“We now look forward to welcoming thousands of families to the 40-acre site in the run-up to Christmas to meet with Santa and visit his reindeer in their decorated paddock.”

Santa’s grotto opened on Saturday (November 25) and will continue from Friday December 1 through to Christmas Eve - Sunday December 24.

Tickets for The Chronicles of Dudley Zoo attraction, which must be booked in advance by visiting the zoo website dudleyzoo.org.uk or calling 01384 215313, include a gift from Santa - presented in an exclusive festive bag for life.

They also include admission to the zoo, allowing guests to spend the day visiting the animals.