Detroit Zoo animals will have a smashing good time on Wednesday, Oct. 23 when they receive pumpkins filled with tasty treats to eat, play with, roll around in, tear apart and smash. Each year around Halloween, the Zoo’s animal welfare staff provides environmental enrichment in the form of pumpkins, gourds and cornstalks as special holiday treats for the animals.
The enrichment items are hidden throughout the animals’ habitats or prepared and placed in a unique manner to stimulate natural behaviors such as foraging or stalking.
“The lions and tigers like to hunt and stalk piñatas filled with a variety of cat-friendly smells and treats,” said Curator of Animal Welfare Elizabeth Arbaugh. She predicts the other animals will enjoy pushing, playing with, smashing and devouring their treats.
The Halloween treats are among the many forms of environmental enrichment used daily at the Detroit Zoo to enhance the animals’ habitats to make them more dynamic and engaging. It includes the introduction of novel and sometimes unpredictable elements such as objects, sounds, scents or other stimuli that give the animals the opportunity to express choice and control in their environments and to make decisions, express individuality and behave in species-typical ways.