PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The Oregon Zoo will hold its annual “Squishing of the Squash” event on Thursday, where the zoo’s Asian elephants stomp and devour a hoard of giant pumpkins.

The event begins at 10:30 a.m. However, Oregon Zoo employees like Asian elephant area supervisor Steve Lefave recommend that visitors arrive by no later than 10 a.m.

“We’ll be giving our elephant family some extra-large pumpkins to stomp on and chomp on,” Lefave said. “First they destroy them, then they enjoy them.”

This year’s pumpkins were provided by Pacific Giant Vegetable Growers Club member Larry Nelson and his daughter, Amanda Gilmour. The tradition began in 1999, when Hoffman’s Dairy Garden of Canby gave its prize-winning, 828-pound pumpkin to the zoo’s elephant family,

“In those days, local farmers often donated overstock pumpkins for use in the zoo’s groundbreaking animal enrichment efforts — improving animals’ well-being by providing stimulating and challenging environments, objects and activities,” the zoo said.

Visitors will also be able to see animals snacking on pumpkins and other Halloween treats during the zoo’s weekend Halloween celebrations, held Oct. 22, Oct. 23, Oct. 29 and Oct. 31

Weighing 6,000 to 13,000 pounds and standing 7 to 10 feet tall, Asian elephants are among the largest living land mammals on earth. The endangered elephants are native to the forests of India, Nepal and Southeast Asia. However, the Oregon Zoo said that roughly a third of the world’s population lives under human care today as a result of habitat loss, conflict with humans and disease. As a result, the Oregon Zoo has established a $1 million endowment fund to support the conservation of the species.