MEMPHIS, TENN. – Today, Memphis Zoo hosted the first-ever animal Pumpkin Mash Day at Memphis Zoo.
More than 15 different species had unique enrichment opportunities featuring pumpkins. There were observation stations spread throughout the Zoo, allowing visitors to observe the behavior of the animals during enrichment time.
One observation station was in front of the Red River Hog yards. Zookeepers placed two carved pumpkins in the left yard, that houses “Athena,” a 9-year old female, and “Buddy,” a 10-year old male. Treats were stuffed inside both pumpkins. Once Athena and Buddy entered the yard, they made a beeline to the pumpkins, and began knocking them over. Once the pumpkins were down, they began nudging them with their snouts, causing the pumpkins to roll around the yard. As the pumpkins rolled, the treats inside would tumble out.
“In America, we have an expression that goes something like – ‘I am happy as a clam at high tide.’,” said Farshid Mehrdadfar, area curator. “During the Pumpkin Mash event, we’d say ‘everybody is as happy as a pig in the Round Barn!’ Our Red River Hogs and Warthogs definitely proved that they were indeed happier than any other critter during our first-ever Pumpkin Mash event.”
In the other Red River Hog yard, “Kay,” a 11-year old female, feasted on a carved jack-o-lantern stuffed with other treats. Unlike Buddy and Athena, who just ate the treats from inside the pumpkin, Kay ate the pumpkin bowl as well.
Zoo staff did note increased activity with a number of other animals, including those located in Cat Country. The Zoo’s two female lions, “Akeelah” and “Jameela,” pounced on pumpkins, effectively throwing them into the moat surrounding their exhibit. They then fished them out, and began the process again.
The grand finale were the Zoo’s three female elephants, “Ty,” “Gina,” and “Asali,” smashing over a thousand pounds of pumpkins everywhere. Four giant pumpkins were donated, ranging in weight between 200 and 500 lbs. Elephant keepers spread smaller pumpkins throughout the yard, as well. All three elephants smashed pumpkins with their feet, which resulted in a resounding “pop!” once they had crunched.
The animals that participated in the Pumpkin Mash included: lions, snow leopards, leopards, jaguars, pumas, black bears, meerkats, rhinos, red river hogs, warthogs, komodo dragons, Sulawesi macaques, pheasants, magpies, thrushes, orangutans, gorillas, mandrills and elephants. For additional photos from the event, check the Zoo’s Facebook page on Monday morning.