FRESNO, California (KGPE) – Autumn brings pumpkin patches, pumpkin spiced lattes, and pumpkin pies – even our Fresno Chaffee Zoo animals got into the spirit of the season.
Thursday’s “Stomp and Chomp” event is part of an enrichment program where caretakers try to stimulate the animals using various snacks.
“This one is fall themed. So, we gather pumpkins and other fall-themed treats and give them to the animals all throughout the zoo,” said the zoo’s Brandy Gamoning.
Around 200 pumpkins were donated to the zoo from a local pumpkin patch, a feed store, and from Fresno County’s 4-H program. Zoo officials say these events are special not only for the animals but also for the people watching.
“They can see some of those natural behaviors they might not see when the animals are in their exhibits.”
“Surprisingly we have our harbor seals and sea lions that are getting the fish out of there and using them as toys, but they also ingest some of the pumpkin and enjoy that as well,” said Shannon Nodolf, the Chief Veterinary officer at the Fresno Chaffee Zoo.
Probably the most popular attraction is watching the elephant’s natural instinct to stomp, then chomp on the pumpkins.
“It’s always surprising to see which animals are gonna have pumpkins. A lot of them may not have them in their natural environment, but a lot of them turns out really really enjoy it – as do people, I love pumpkin.”
However, not all the animals at the zoo get pumpkins to eat or play with due to dietary restrictions.