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