Pumpkin Palooza at the Akron Zoo -- Akron, OH

Last week I found out about this event that was going on at the Akron Zoo on Halloween. What does the Akron Zoo do with all of the pumpkins left over from Boo at the Zoo? They give them to the animals of course! I know it seems silly, do animals really want to play with pumpkins? The Akron Zoo uses various items throughout the year to pique their curiosity, engage their minds and encourage them to be more active. There is a little secret to getting the animals to play with their pumpkins though (they're full of treats).

Animals were provided with their enrichment treats in half hour increments, giving you plenty of time to travel between exhibits after watching them enjoy their pumpkins.

First on the agenda were the penguins. The penguins were given floating plastic jack-o-lanterns to play with in the pool.


The penguins also had three penguin pumpkins, but they were pretty uninterested in those pumpkins.

According to one of the zoo employees, sometimes the baby penguins are more curious and will engage with enrichment items such as the pumpkin penguins, but for the most part the adults aren't too interested in engaging with faux penguins. 

One little guy in particular was particularly disturbed by this paper ghost fluttering in the wind, he stood underneath the paper ghost squawking every time it blew in the wind.

The fall foliage was beautiful, we took a short stroll over to the next location. 

Next to receive a jack-o-lantern was the jaguar. Although the zoo has three jaguars, they are rotated between different areas, they are solitary creatures in the wild and the zoo tries to maintain their usual habits. After completing a monthly safety check of the jaguar enclosure, the lead female jaguar was released. The Akron Zoo doesn't force any of the animals to move at any point, so we were unsure if the jaguar would immediately make a move or decide to be shy. 

She went right for the pumpkin. 

But, sadly, she knocked it into the water in her enclosure and it was a little too chilly for her to jump in -- at this point Dave and I moved over to the next area in order to get a better view. 

The Andrean Condors were given a pumpkin full of frozen rats and quails.  


Grock, the male condor, was the one who decided to investigate. 

But then he got a little distracted, I was pressed up against the glass wearing a bright red scarf, apparently red and orange are some of their favorite colors.

Hello Grock.

Delivering us a little present. 

We ended up in the back during the snow leopard enrichment, but if you look closely at the center of the picture, the snow leopard is pretty happy with the pumpkin. 


Pagos the tortoise is on a special diet right now, so she wasn't allowed to eat the whole pumpkin. But her keepers decorated it with her image and her name.

 And she was allowed to have a little pumpkin treat.

 Trick or treat? 

We were at the zoo from 10:15 until 1:15 and needed to head home to complete some things before our friends came over to our apartment -- as a result we missed out on seeing the lions, eagles, tigers and other animals receiving their pumpkin enrichment items.

I thought this was a really fun event for both children and adults. It was neat to see the animals working with a common item to us, but which is foreign and novel to them. The event was really well put together from the printed schedule to the announcements before each enrichment was to start to the knowledge the zoo employees were able to share at each location, I was incredibly impressed overall.

Try not to miss this event next year! If you attend in the morning, you'll have plenty of time to go trick or treating in the afternoon.

My rating for Pumpkin Palooza at the Akron Zoo:


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