Taronga Zoo’s elephants received a special enrichment treat for breakfast today – a 728kg pumpkin from the Sydney Royal Easter Show!
Taronga and the Royal Agricultural Society of NSW (RAS) joined forces to get wildlife involved in recycling the prize-winning pumpkins displayed at this year’s Show.
The pumpkins, including the 728kg monster that was the biggest pumpkin to ever grace a Sydney Royal Easter Show, were trucked to the Zoo at the close of the show on Wednesday and presented to the elephants this morning.
Taronga’s Asian Elephant herd, including adults Porntip and Pak Boon and calves Pathi Harn and Tukta, were quick to pounce on the record-breaking pumpkin.
The adult elephants had eaten pumpkins in Thailand before they came to Australia, but keepers were keen to see what they would make of the giant variety.
“We’re always looking for new foods and enrichment items to challenge and stimulate our extraordinary animals. Elephants have many remarkable skills and environmental enrichment is a great way to encourage these skills and arouse their natural curiosity,” said Elephant Keeper, Steve Westnedge.
Taronga’s elephants get a variety of interesting food items, particularly enjoying fibrous palm logs and tough pineapple plant tops.
“When we saw the giant pumpkin in the news, we thought it was a fun opportunity to bring a taste of the Easter Show to Taronga and offer a nutritious and challenging treat to the Zoo’s largest animals,” said Steve.
The record-holder had enjoyed pride of place at the Great Backyard Pumpkin Challenge in the Flower and Garden Pavilion at the Show, among 50,000 other pieces of fruit and vegetables.
The pumpkins would normally be recycled as green waste after the show, but organisers were happy to see them served to some mammoth diners instead.
“The Great Backyard Pumpkin Challenge is one of our most popular displays at the Show, and this year grower Dale Oliver produced the largest pumpkin ever seen in Australasia. The Show celebrates the country coming to the city, so it’s great to be able to share this record breaking pumpkin from regional NSW with our giant friends here at Sydney’s Taronga Zoo,” said Michael Collins, Chief Operating Officer at the Easter Show.