Red pandas, sloths, lynx, and armadillos were the stars of a Halloween-inspired photoshoot at a zoo in Sussex this week – with hilarious photo results.

Drusillas Zoo Park near Alfriston offered carved pumpkins up to some of their animal residents, and following the viral sensation of their pumpkin photoshoot last year, attempted to recreate some Halloween fun.

Keepers hung the custom carved fruits – lined with tasty treats and smells such as rats, olive oil, bugs, and perfume – in position and patiently waited to see if the animals would line up to create a ‘pumpkin head’ illusion.

One of the zoo’s newest arrivals, Friston the Eurasian lynx, got involved for the first time with a pumpkin doused in aftershave, Flash the sloth – who was hand-reared at the zoo -found chicory hidden in her gourd, Maja the red panda snuffled panda cake from inside his, Eddie the armadillo dug for bugs inside his, and binturong Penh chomped juicy tomatoes from inside his very own pumpkin head.

Although lots of fun, activities such as this form an important part of the zoo’s daily enrichment programmes. Keepers are always thinking up creative ways of offering their animals additional mental and physical stimulation for the day and a hanging pumpkin provides a great new object to explore and investigate.

Senior keeper, Jacinta Dawe commented “It’s really important for us to give our animals stimulation and enrichment every day, and many of them already have pumpkin as part of their natural diet. Each day we try to mix it up and provide a new form of enrichment for them, whether it’s scent enrichment using herbs and oils, puzzle equipment, or food presented in new ways like today. It might look like we’re just having fun, but it’s actually a

really vital part of our job to continually offer new activities to keep their minds stimulated and encourage them to problem solve and engage in natural behaviours. In the wild food wouldn’t just be handed to them every day, so this is a great way to make them work for it.”

The seasonal fun comes ahead of Drusillas’ annual Shriek Week event over half term, where visitors can enjoy a number of family-friendly Halloween themed attractions, such as their live-action haunted house, escaped mummy maze, and sugar skull witch, spider encounters, and devilish decorations throughout the park including hundreds of pumpkins and Halloween photo opportunities.

The pumpkin decorations will not go to waste, as the leftovers will be offered up to many of the zoo’s 800 animals once the celebrations are over, so they can enjoy a fa-boo-lous time too!