Gorillas and anteaters noshed on pumpkins and kids dressed up like their favorite zoo-dwellers on Sunday for a spook-tacular day at the Franklin Park Zoo .
The zoo's Halloween celebration, called “Zoo Howl,” had all the essentials: trick-or-treating, a haunted maze, “ghoulish games” and costume contests, plus lots of special fall treats for the furry beasts.
The pumpkins were “enrichment” for the zoo’s animals, a spokeswoman said – stimulation for the critters in captivity that let them play around and add some variety to their lives in pens and behind glass viewing areas.
“They certainly don’t get pumpkins every day at the zoo. It’s a novel treat,” said Brooke Wardrop, the zoo’s marketing director. “Some of the animals eat the pumpkin, some of them roll them around or bat them around. It depends on the species.”
Okie the gorilla ate his like an apple. Zookeepers buried some food in the pumpkin given to Jockamo the anteater. Jockamo stuck his snout in a hole at the top to scoop out his grub.
All sorts of animals got their chance to experiment, because why would you want to leave out the tigers, the lions or the condors?
It’s a tradition at the zoo to mark the fall season with some Halloween fun, Wardrop said. She said 2,700 turned out on Saturday, and 1,400 were there on Sunday for the two-day event
“It’s something people really look forward to,” Wardrop said. “It’s fun for the animals and it’s fun for the visitors to see.”
The zoo looks for donors to buy enrichment items for their animals, and even has a wish list on Amazon of toys and games for their animals to mess around with, from bouncy balls and children’s books to scratch pads and exercise wheels.
Head back to the zoo on Halloween to take part in its Run Wild 5K. Want to see more animals eating funny things? Nov. 7 is the fifth-birthday party for one of the zoo’s gorillas, Kambiri, and Wardrop said there may be primate-friendly cake served, plus human-friendly cake for visitors.
This story has been updated to correct the number of Franklin Park Zoo attendees on Saturday.