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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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VMG president joins House of Lords

News Story 1
 Miles Russell, president of the Veterinary Management Group (VMG), has been elected to the House of Lords as a crossbench hereditary peer.

He will join Lord Trees as a representative of the veterinary sector in the second chamber of the UK parliament.

Lord Russell said: "Those of us working in the animal health and veterinary sectors are only too aware of the importance of the work we do and the challenges we face.

"I will use my platform in the House of Lords to increase understanding of our sectors and to promote positive change." 

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News Shorts
Sixth case of bluetongue confirmed

A sixth case of bluetongue virus serotype 3 has been confirmed in the UK.

The case was detected in an animal on a premises linked to one of the farms within the Temporary Control Zone (TCZ) currently in place near Canterbury, Kent.

In response, the Animal and Plant Health Agency has extended the TCZ. Investigations into the spread of the disease are ongoing.

The cases in Kent come at a time when a new strain of the virus has spread rapidly across farms in the Netherlands. Both the Government and the British Veterinary Association have urged livestock keepers to remain vigilant.

Bluetongue is a notifiable disease and suspected cases must be reported immediately on 03000 200 301 in England or 03003 038 268 in Wales. In Scotland, possible cases should be reported to the local field services office.