PORTLAND, OR -- Three Asian elephants enjoyed a Halloween treat at the Oregon Zoo, Thursday.
Massive pumpkins - 600 to 800 pounds each - were grown and donated by an Albany farmer. But it took just a few minutes for them to be pulverized by pachyderms. Curator of Elephants Steve LaFave says the annual event is always a fan favorite. And, it’s good for the elephants, "It’s great enrichment for them to go out and enjoy a novel food item and something with these different textures and size, obviously." Typically, each of the elephants will eat around 250 pounds of hay a day, as well as a grain subsitute and the occaional tree branch.
LaFave says the gourds don’t have much nutritional value, "But it’s a good, novel food for them. Elephants only digest about 30% of what they eat. So, they’ll come out, they’ll spend the energy they need to gobble what they have and then they’ll leave the rest for us to pick up."
Rose-Tu, Sung-Surin and Chendra stepped on, kicked and ate pieces of pumpkin, much to the delight of the crowd. "It also helps us build some herd dynamic, where they get a chance to work together. We saw everybody sharing nicely, which is what we always like to see," LaFave tells KBND News.
This is the first year since 2019 the zoo has allowed so many spectators to observe the annual squash squishing in person.