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London Zoo celebrates Halloween early
The critically-endangered Sumatran tigers followed a trail to their snacks.
Animals at the zoo enjoyed pumpkin treats.

London Zoo’s animals have celebrated Halloween early, after their keepers gave them carved pumpkins that were stuffed with their favourite treats.

As well as providing a seasonal snack, the pumpkin activities challenged the animals’ abilities to forage for their food.

The zookeepers carved the pumpkins, many of which were sourced from London Zoo’s own community garden, for the Sumatran tigers, okapis, Galapagos tortoises and a Komodo dragon. Each animal had their own stuffed pumpkin to forage.

The critically-endangered Sumatran tigers, Zac and Crispin, followed a cinnamon and nutmeg trail through their territory to get their claws into their pumpkin snacks. Meanwhile Kahleesi, a 1.5m long Komodo dragon, used her 60 serrated teeth to break into her own meat-filled pumpkin.

Other animals enjoying the festivities included Galapagos tortoises Polly, Dolly and Priscilla, as well as the Zoo’s okapis, Oni and Ede, who stretched their tongues to a length of 30cm to find their breakfast.

The zoo is home to 14,000 animals, from 386 different species, many of which are threatened or extinct in the wild and are part of conservation programmes. It also participates in global breeding programmes, such as the Zoological Society of London’s Sumatran tiger breeding programme, to maintain a population of threatened species.

London Zoo’s zoological operations manager Dan Simmonds said: “With pumpkins in season, they are a sustainable snack for some of the animals, while others just love tearing them apart.

“Just like siblings after an evening trick-or-treating, our tiger teenagers Zac and Crispin weren't particularly keen to share their spooky squashes with each other, preferring to play with their food before they ate it.”

Image © ZSL

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Reporting service for dead wild birds updated

News Story 1
 The Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) has updated its online reporting service for dead wild birds.

The new version allows those reporting a dead bird to drop a pin on a map when reporting the location. It also includes a wider range of wild bird species groups to select from when describing the bird.

The online service, which helps APHA to monitor the spread of diseases such as avian influenza, can be accessed here

Click here for more...
News Shorts
NI chief vet urges bluetongue vigilance

Northern Ireland's chief veterinary officer (CVO) has urged farmers to be vigilant for signs of bluetongue, after the Animal and Plant Health Agency warned there was a very high probability of further cases in Great Britain.

There have been 126 confirmed cases of bluetongue virus serotype 3 in England since November 2023, with no cases reported in Northern Ireland. The movement of live ruminants from Great Britain to Northern Ireland is currently suspended.

According to the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA), the virus is most likely to enter Northern Ireland through infected animals or germplasm (semen or ova) being imported.

Brian Dooher, Northern Ireland's CVO, said: "Surveillance for this disease within Northern Ireland has been increased to assist with detection at the earliest opportunity which will facilitate more effective control measures."

Farmers should report any suspicions of the disease to their private veterinary practitioner, the DAERA Helpline on 0300 200 7840 or their local DAERA Direct Veterinary Office.