ROYAL OAK, Mich., October 16, 2012 – Detroit Zoo animals will have a smashing good time on Wednesday, Oct. 24, 2012, 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.  For example, the primates’ pumpkins are carved out and filled with red-colored pasta.  “The gorillas enjoy digging in and eating the ghoulish spaghetti,” said Animal Welfare Manager Elizabeth Arbaugh.  She predicts the other animals will enjoy pushing, playing with, smashing and devouring their treats.

Enrichment Schedule:
  • 10 a.m. – vultures (treat-filled pumpkins)
  • 10:30 a.m. – gorillas and chimps (spaghetti-filled pumpkins)
  • 11 a.m. – snow monkeys (Halloween treats)
  • 11:30 a.m. – rhinos (pumpkins and cornstalks)
  • Noon – zebras (corn stalks)
  • 12:30 p.m. – wolverines (piñata, pumpkins and spaghetti)
  • 1 p.m. – bison (pumpkins and cornstalks)
  • 1:30 p.m. – polar bears (pumpkins)
  • 2 p.m. – bear-den bears (Halloween treats)
  • 2:30 p.m. – anteaters (Halloween 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.