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Zoo animals go viral with ‘pumpkin head’ fun

PUBLISHED 21/10/22

Our animals have experienced their first brush with viral fame, as a recent video of them taking part in a Halloween challenge racked up more than 9 million views in just a few days!

The trending ‘pumpkin head photoshoot challenge’ sees people cutting the bottom out of jack-o-lanterns and wearing them as masks set to Jack Stauber’s track ‘Oh Klahoma’. The trend was given an animal twist by the team at Drusillas, who chose to feature servals, capybaras, monkeys, beavers, and goats.

With cameras at the ready, the Sussex Zoo team lined carved pumpkins with treats and scent enrichment and waited patiently for their animals to investigate, in hopes of creating a pumpkin head illusion. The final video has racked up more than 9 million views and 1.6 million likes, with thousands of comments from around the world, some claiming they ‘won’ the challenge.

The Zoo team were careful to execute the challenge without causing any stress to their animals, by removing the back portions of the pumpkins and letting the animals choose whether to engage or not. The activity formed part of the zoo’s daily enrichment programmes which offers their animals food in unusual and creative ways for additional mental and physical stimulation – an element appreciated by the zoo’s animal-loving followers.

Zookeeper Claudia Farley commented “It’s really important for us to give our animals stimulation and enrichment every day, and many of them already have pumpkin as part of their natural diet. Each day we try to mix it up and provide a new form of enrichment for them, whether it’s scent enrichment using herbs and oils, puzzle equipment, or food presented in new ways like today. It might look like we’re just having fun, but it’s actually a really vital part of our job to continually offer new activities to keep their minds stimulated and encourage them to problem solve and engage in natural behaviours. In the wild food wouldn’t just be handed to them every day, so this is a great way to make them work for it.”

The pumpkin decorations will not go to waste, as the leftovers will be offered up to many of the Zoo’s 800 exotic animals once the celebrations are over, so they can enjoy a fa-boo-lous time too!

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