As autumn comes, the changing weather is giving zoos new challenges. Zoos are fighting back with pumpkins and trick-or-treat.
A Jack-o-Lantern, yummy! Credit: Detroit Zoo
From a zoo’s point of view, autumn is a time when newly harvested feed supplies are fresh and available and the comfortable weather makes the animals frisky. But it is also right before the challenges of winter. While the polar bear might welcome the snow, the iguanas won’t, and it takes money to heat the animal enclosures. Also, zoological societies are heavily involved in conservation and rescue work and wintertime is difficult.
A noble wolf with its pumpkin prey Credit: Detroit Zoo
So, one of the more enjoyable ways to prepare for winter is to stage events that attract tourists and money. Halloween pumpkin day is one of the more common events. Zoos place pumpkins in their animal enclosures and let the animals do what they please. They eat, they play, and they smash. Pumpkins are round and fun to play with and, unlike most toys, yummy when you break them. Even animals like snakes, that don’t eat pumpkins, can get a jack-o-lantern to lurk in. Others find treats stuffed inside. (Cincinnati used picturesque brain-colored sugar-free jello while Detroit gave the wolverines spaghetti.) The animals get mental stimulation, the viewers get awesome pictures, and the zoos get much needed revenue in the current declining economy.
Even a gorilla can enjoy Smashing Pumpkins Credit: Detroit Zoo
So when the temperatures dropped to freezing in the middle of this October, many of the animals could thank their pumpkin frolic for helping to keep them warm.