Pumpkin pie might be the order of the day for people this Halloween but now zoo animals are also getting in on the act.
Not only is pumpkin – either served raw or packed with various treats – a welcome change in the diet for most zoo animals, it is also a great way to interest visitors.
For example, at the world’s oldest zoo in the grounds of the Imperial Schoenbrunn Palace in the Austrian capital Vienna, artistically carved pumpkins are being snapped up by the zoo animals who seem to welcome the variety and are not put off by the scary faces.
Zoo director Dagmar Schratter said: “It is all treat, and no trick for our animals.”
She said that some of the animals like the elephants and hippos have a particular love for pumpkins and can often eat the whole thing in one go.
She added: “Others are not so keen but are not left out as their pumpkins are filled with their favourite foods, such as apples for red pandas and fish for the otters.
“Some of the smaller creatures like the Colorado toad can climb inside the pumpkin through the mouth and go in search of its favourite treat inside – the black beetle larvae.
“The big meat eaters of the zoo, Lynn and Ranzo the polar bears, have a diet consisting of meat and fish so their pumpkins are filled with cat food which they can scoop out. The pumpkin is just a little bit of seasoning.”
And she added that the big advantage was that no matter which animal received the pumpkin “it will definitely be good fun for those watching”.
Down the road from the zoo a massive aquarium inside a huge concrete flak tower built during World War II by the Nazis to defend them against allied attacks is also celebrating Halloween.
Because it does not have as much space as the zoo it concentrates on the smaller animals including insects and fish and reptiles. As most of these are scary enough for Halloween themselves, the aquarium are specially focusing on their Halloween creepy crawlies.
A spokesman for the aquarium, known as the Haus des Meeres, said: “We are also planning to hand out the pumpkins to some of our creatures although we are sure most Halloween visitors are looking to see the creepy crawlies themselves rather than the decorations.”