Watch Herbie the Hippo’s Pumpkin Extravaganza

If you haven’t seen it yet, you’re in for a real treat—pun intended! A video of Herbie, a lovable hippo residing at the Toledo Zoo, going to town on a pumpkin has taken the internet by storm.

This Halloween, Herbie showed off his festive spirit by indulging in a massive pumpkin feast. Pumpkins are no easy treat to devour, even for us humans who’ve carved our fair share, but for Herbie, it’s a walk in the park.

With each bite, he reminds us of the incredible power of those massive jaws. It’s a Halloween spectacle like no other!

Enrichment activities are critical to zoo animals like Herbie.

Photo: Photo: Instagram / thetoledozoo
Enrichment activities are critical to zoo animals like Herbie.

The Importance of Enrichment for Animals

Now, you might be wondering, what’s the reason behind this pumpkin extravaganza? It’s not just about the entertainment, although I’m sure it’s a nice bonus. Many zoos offer these special food treats to their residents for a more profound reason—enrichment.

The Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Behavioral Advisory Group defines enrichment as, “a process for improving or enhancing animal environments and care within the context of their inhabitants’ behavioral biology and natural history. It is a dynamic process in which changes to structures and husbandry practices are made with the goal of increasing behavioral choices available to animals and drawing out their species-appropriate behaviors and abilities, thus enhancing animal welfare.”

The pumpkin is not only delicious, it provides Herbie with mental stimulation.

Photo: Instagram / thetoledozoo
The pumpkin is not only delicious, it provides Herbie with mental stimulation.

In the wild, animals face a constant array of challenges, from hunting for food to navigating different terrains. In a zoo environment, it’s essential to recreate some of these challenges to keep our animal friends physically active and mentally sharp.

Pumpkin chomping is a prime example of enrichment. It offers the hippo a chance to engage in natural behaviors, like tearing into plant material. Foraging, in this case, digging into a pumpkin, is a fundamental part of a hippo’s natural routine. It also provides mental stimulation as Herbie figures out how to access the tasty pumpkin seeds inside.

Keeping Our Animal Friends Happy

Enrichment doesn’t stop at food; it encompasses a wide array of activities and experiences. Zoos offer various toys, puzzles, and even scents to keep animals engaged. These enrichment activities ensure that their animal residents lead more fulfilling lives and stay both mentally and physically healthy.

So, the next time you witness a hippo enjoying a pumpkin or any other animal engaging in a unique activity at the zoo, remember that it’s not just for your entertainment. It’s all part of a carefully designed plan to make sure our beloved animals remain happy, healthy, and as spirited as Herbie during his pumpkin feast.

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Matthew Russell is a West Michigan native and with a background in journalism, data analysis, cartography and design thinking. He likes to learn new things and solve old problems whenever possible, and enjoys bicycling, spending time with his daughters, and coffee.
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