OH MY GOURD… Leftover Halloween Pumpkins Find New Purpose with ZooAnimals

Oakland Zoo
November 1, 2019
Mandla, lion, enjoying a tasty pumpkin treat.


Oakland Zoo Animal Care Staff unloading pumpkin donations


Oakland, CA – November 1, 2019… Carving of the gourds has been a tradition in North America for decades. But what happens to them after the season ends? Instead of ending up as waste in compost or the trash bin, theOakland Zoo works with local pumpkin patches to donate leftovers to the Zoo for the animals to enjoy. This annual tradition has become quite a treat for many animals at Oakland Zoo, due to the generous donations from donors such as Moore’sPumpkins and Fuji Melon Pumpkin Patch. 


“Making smart and sustainable choices is important to us. Most Halloween pumpkins - 1.3 billion pounds, in fact - end up in the landfill where they generate greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global warming. Pumpkins can be made into yummy seeds, soup or bread and eaten, composted at home, or donated to Oakland Zoo for a fun and healthy food source for our animal family!”, said Amy Gotliffe, Director of Conservation at Oakland Zoo.


The pumpkin craze that sweeps the nation does not only affect the human variety.


“The pumpkins are a wonderful and healthy resource for all of our animals here at the zoo. It’s kind of like an early Thanksgiving feast and because we are able to gather so many, we end up feeding them out until January,”said Gina Kinzley, Lead Elephant Keeper atOakland Zoo.


Not only are these orange vegetables added to every day animal diets, but zookeepers have creatively crafted the orange vegetables into enrichment items such as pumpkin kabobs, gourd bowls filled with meat treats, puzzle feeders, and even frozen delicacies. Zoo visitors are able to see animals feasting on the sweet goodies daily now through the end of December.





Oakland Zoo, home to more than 850+ native and exotic animals, is managed by the Conservation Society of California(CSC); a non-profit organization leading an informed and inspired community to take action for wildlife locally and globally. With over 25 conservation partners and projects worldwide, the CSC is committed to conservation-based education and saving species and their habitats in the wild. Oakland Zoo is dedicated to the humane treatment of animals and is accredited by theAssociation of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), the national organization that sets the highest standards for animal welfare for zoos and aquariums.