Paw-some Pumpkin play for Safari Park's babies - The Evesham Observer

Paw-some Pumpkin play for Safari Park's babies

Evesham Editorial 26th Oct, 2023   0

FOR SUMATRAN tiger cub, Lestari, red panda cub, Lushan and meerkat pup, Lily, this is the first time they have experienced pumpkins and there were mixed reactions to the large, seasonal fruits!

Lushan and Lestari seemed to be very wary to start with, approaching the pumpkins with extreme caution and then retreating hastily, leaving their mothers to enjoy them instead.

Lily the meerkat pup however, had her paws straight on the prize, led by the rest of the mob, who were very excited to see this novel form of enrichment and frantically started to scratch and nibble at the tasty, orange flesh.

Katie McDonald, Research and Conservation Officer, explained, “We use enrichment to allow our animals to exhibit natural behaviours. This might be to give the animals different foraging opportunities, or sometimes it exercises muscles they might not always use. It may also increase exploration of the environment by using interesting scent trails.

“Novel objects such as pumpkins allow our animals to investigate something that looks, smells and feels different. Some species, like our meerkats can use their cognitive skills to find food inside them, whilst other animals such as our tigers, like to stalk and capture them!

“Enrichment is very important for our young, developing animals. They need varied environments to develop their movement and thinking skills, just like human babies, so it was great to see how each one reacted.”

For the red pandas, keepers hollowed out their pumpkin and filled it with bamboo, which was enjoyed by Lushan’s mum, Mei Lin, whereas the meerkats’ was filled with wriggly meal worms.

As the Park is currently themed with hundreds of pumpkins for their Spooky Spectacular Halloween event, any surplus are donated to the animals, so the tiger keepers also offered Lestari a complete, uncarved pumpkin.

Presented in this way was an instant hit and the four-month-old cub ‘stalked’ the pumpkin before pouncing on it and attacking it with her tiny claws, teeth and feet!

She was also seen fiercely protecting her precious plaything from her mum, Dourga, who was warned off with a few playful pats to the face.

Guests to the Park may spot pumpkins in some of the other animal habitats, on the safari and in the pedestrianised areas, some of which make up spooky photo points for guests to snap a picture.

During Spooky Spectacular (running until 5 November), guests can take part in a trail to win a tasty treat, enter a competition to win a Rhino Lodge stay, meet Patch the pumpkin-headed scarecrow, or take part in a brand-new ‘silly science show’ with new mascot, Mitzy Monster (from 28 October).

Lestari, Lushan and Lily can be seen in the walk-through areas of the Park and along with Spooky Spectacular activities, are included in the admission charge. The best prices can be booked online in advance. Children under the age of three are free.

Adventure Theme Park rides are charged extra. Admission includes a Free Return to visit again within six months, only when booking online in advance.

Further information about West Midland Safari Park is available from the Park’s website or by telephone 01299 402114. Find out more on the Safari Park’s official Facebook page:


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