PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Oregon Zoo elephants with crush and devour hundreds of pounds of pumpkin on Oct. 19 for the zoo’s 25th annual “Squishing of the Squash” event.
The tradition of feeding giant pumpkins to the zoo’s Asian elephants began in 1999, when the Hoffman Dairy Garden in Canby donated a prize-winning, 828-pound pumpkin to the zoo. Each year, local farmers donate their surplus pumpkins to the zoo. Animal experts like Steve Lefave, who oversees the zoo’s elephant exhibit, feed these pumpkins to the animals as part of the zoo’s enrichment program, designed to stimulate and challenge the captive animals with unique objects and environments.
“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.”
The event will be held at the zoo’s Asian Elephant exhibit at 10:30 a.m. The pumpkins donated for the 2023 event are provided by Pacific Giant Vegetable Growers Club members Larry Nelson and his daughter Amanda Gilmour.