30 October 2023

Spirited lionesses Waka and Winta were amongst the many youngsters sinking their teeth into Halloween at Whipsnade Zoo today (Monday 30 October) as zookeepers treated animals across the Zoo to a spook-tacular surprise.  

Zookeepers carved petrifying pumpkins for many of the 11,000 animals at the UK’s largest Zoo, using the spooky squashes to put the animals' foraging and hunting skills to the test.  

The conservation zoo’s playful two-year-old African lionesses, Waka and Winta, pounced on the pumpkins after following a bloody trail to sniff out the meaty treats hidden inside, while the zoo’s colony of African penguins waddled and waded through the water to find a fishy treat in their giant gourds.  

 Also joining the ghoulish fun were pygmy goats Elsa, Nala, Tiana, Jasmine and Baloo, and while the pint-sized goats weren’t interested in the creative carvings, they had a smashing time playing football with the vegetables - before the remains were gobbled up by their neighbours, the fluffy Mangalitsa pigs.  

Penguin looking to the left, with fish in its mouth and carved pumpkin behind it.
Lion licks pumpkin which is carved into a cat shape on grass
Animals enjoy pumpkin treats at Whipsnade Zoo

Whipsnade Zoo’s Head of Zoological Operations Matthew Webb said: “We wanted to make sure the animals didn’t miss out on any Halloween fun this year – with pumpkins in season, they are a delicious sustainable snack for our Mangalitsa pigs, while lionesses Waka and Winta just love tearing them apart.”  

Pygmy goat pushes over carved pumpkin with nose and head

Whipsnade Zoo is home to 245 species, many of which are threatened or extinct in the wild and part of vital conservation programmes. The conservation zoo participates in collaborative global breeding programmes - such as the African lion breeding programme - working with zoos across the world to care for a healthy back-up population of some of the world’s most threatened species.  

Matthew added: “With over 600 acres, Whipsnade Zoo is the perfect autumnal destination this Halloween - families can spend an atmospheric day visiting 11,000 animals, from tiny, yellow-eyed vampire crabs to famously-fanged Chinese water deer.”  

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