23 October 2023
Sumatran tigers, okapis, Galapagos tortoises and a Komodo dragon embraced this spooky season at London Zoo today, as zookeepers put the animals’ fearsome foraging skills to the test with creepy carved pumpkins stuffed with their favourite treats.
Zookeepers carved petrifying pumpkins for some of the 14,000 incredible animals who call London Zoo home, with many of the pumpkins harvested from the conservation zoo’s own community garden, a shared space open to ZSL's Community Access Scheme partners.
The conservation zoo’s playful tiger teens, Zac and Crispin, followed a cinnamon and nutmeg scent trail through Tiger Territory, leading the pair to a petrifying pile of giant gourds. The critically endangered cats dug their claws into their Halloween treat, before 1.5-meter long Komodo dragon Khaleesi clamped her 60 serrated, shark-like teeth around a meat-filled pumpkin of her own.
Joining the ghoulish fun, London Zoo’s Galapagos tortoises, Polly, Dolly and Priscilla, chomped away at jack o'lanterns, before okapis, Oni and Ede, wrapped their bewitching black tongues - which can stretch to an incredible 30cm - around hand-carved gourds, to find their breakfast.
London Zoo’s Zoological Operations Manager Dan Simmonds said: “Families have been flocking to London Zoo this week for our famous Boo at the Zoo half-term celebrations, and our zookeepers want to make sure the animals don’t miss out on the Halloween fun. 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.”
London Zoo is home to an incredible 386 species, many of which are threatened or extinct in the wild and part of vital conservation programmes. The conservation zoo participates in collaborative global breeding programmes - such as the Sumatran tiger breeding programme, which is managed by ZSL – working with zoos across the world to care for a healthy back-up population of some of the world’s most threatened species.