Scary pumpkin seeds and seals

  • November 05, 2014 | Jonathan Ellerbeck – animal behaviourist

Daisy claims her pumpkin

In celebration of Halloween this year, the seal team decided to get in on the fun and thought it would be a good idea to share it with the seals.

Pumpkin does not form part of a seal’s diet so the exercise was more for fun and to pique the seals' innate sense of curiosity.

Investigating is an important part of any enrichment programme as it allows animals to use their senses. 

We took all the seeds and stringy parts out before we began carving scary Halloween faces. I would love to say we are adults, but I would be lying. We took to our task with such gusto that pumpkin seeds and bits could be found in our hair and on our faces after a few seconds of carving.

Hobie investigates his new plaything

Once the carving was complete we had time to briefly admire our work, before the real fun began.

Bets were taken as to what the seals would do with their new toys. Some of them needed a little convincing and encouragement from the trainers, while others started pushing the pumpkins around in the water and shaking them vigorously. No seal attempted to eat a pumpkin, instinctively knowing that it was definitely not a fish.

What was left of the pumpkins was given to the education team to use in our worm farm to make compost for the trees that the outreach team plants at different schools during Arbour Week. It's a perfect example of recycling in action and we know our pumpkin creations will live on.

Members of uShaka's seal team

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