Even a half-ton pumpkin is no match for young elephants at the Oregon Zoo.
Zoo visitors this morning witnessed the annual “Squishing of the Squash”, where several pumpkins weighing over 1,000 pounds each were demolished in seconds by Lily, her older brother Samudra, and three other members of the herd.
Elephant curator Bob Lee explained that the pumpkins allow the elephants to move around and get their exercise. “They love the pumpkins this time of year,” Lee said. “We give them seasonal fruits and vegetables when we can,” he added.
Putting the pumpkins out allows them to explore something new in their environment. “We want them to be using their minds. Coming out here, manipulating the environment…keeping them stimulated and motivated, and that’s what we’re all about,” Lee concluded.
At one point Samudra, eight years old, rolled around, playing on his side, trying to smash the pumpkin into smaller bites to eat. “They love the taste of these things. It’s a special time of year, “Lee said.
The pumpkins took over 100 days to grow to this size, and were provided this year by Pacific Giant Vegetable Growers Club members Larry and Christy Nelson of Albany, Oregon.
Visitors to the zoo tomorrow and Sunday can participate in zoo’s annual Howloween celebration, which is free with zoo admission. From 10 am to 3 pm, visitors can watch the zoo’s enrichment team provide animals with holiday-themed treats, and children can participate in a scavenger hunt.