Halloween is Pumpkin Weather for Zoos!

November 19, 2018
Bears and Pumpkin
Detroit Zoo

It’s getting close to Halloween. Time to give a pumpkin to—to a polar bear. Isn’t it obvious?

Even polar bears like Halloween pumpkins. Credit: Detroit Zoo

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.

(Readers who would like to see more pictures and a couple of videos can go to https://www.facebook.com/detroitzoo.)

About This Blog

Are you a weather watcher? Welcome to “Weather Whispers” by James Garriss and until recently, Evelyn Browning Garriss. With expertise and humor, this column covers everything weather—from weather forecasts to WHY extreme weather happens to ways that weather affects your life from farming to your grocery bill. Enjoy weather facts, folklore, and fun!

With heavy hearts, we share the news that historical climatologist and immensely entertaining Almanac contributor Evelyn Browning Garriss passed away in late June 2017. Evelyn shared her lifetime of weather knowledge with Almanac editors and readers, explaining weather phenomena in conversation and expounding on topics in articles for the print edition of The Old Farmer’s Almanac as well as in these articles. We were honored to know and work with her as her time allowed, which is to say when she was not giving lectures to, writing articles for, and consulting with scientists, academia, investors, and government agencies around the world. She will be greatly missed by the Almanac staff and readers.