Pumpkin Fest is back!

Calling all pumpkin pickers! A bumper crop of over 1,000 pumpkins is ready to be harvested as part of the zoo’s Autumnal themed event – Pumpkin Fest.

From 9th – 31st October the event returns to Noah’s Ark, turning the Zoo Farm and Farm Shop Autumnal bright orange for the month. Featuring a wonderful ‘pick your own pumpkin’ patch populated with pumpkins planted and grown on site from Elephant poo within the 100 acres of Somerset countryside.

Families will be able to grab a wheelbarrow or mini wheelbarrow for the kids and adventure around the patch to pick out some whopper sized pumpkins of all shapes and colours. With fabulous pumpkin themed treats at the Food Barn and Farm Shop, an Autumnal Top Trumps trail and special half term activities.

Staff discovered pumpkins growing from an Elephant dung pile a few years ago after elephants ate pumpkins and the undigested seeds self-planted to create an unexpected organic pumpkin patch.

Since then, Noah’s Ark staff have planted and cared for a dedicated pumpkin patch which has had a bountiful harvest for the zoo’s grounds team. Nowadays, grown using a unique blend of mainly African Elephant and White Rhino dung as manure, large squashes have been sprouting. Pumpkins range from your typical orange colour to ‘ghost’ white pumpkins.

“It’s fantastic to see the result of our hard work. It has been the best year yet for our annual pumpkin harvest, from 100 in 2019 to now well over 1,000 this year. They are particularly large this year as well, which could be due to the great pumpkin-growing weather we’ve had and the special zoo fertiliser we use.” said Michael Bradly, Grounds Manager.

“Pumpkins need a warm, sunny location with shelter from wind and soil that holds moisture. It’s also unique as the manure used comes from the Zoo Farm’s own animals so they are very special pumpkins.” he continued.

Noah’s Ark has proudly been pursuing a green future, with Elephants producing up to 150kg of dung per day, it is a great sustainable solution for this unique Zoo Farm.

Pumpkin Fest will also feature special Bug Talks over the half term period from 25th – 29th October where guests can discover more about their favourite little critters and get up close to some of the zoo’s exotic invertebrates.

The zoo’s Top Trumps trail also continues with vibrant Autumnal colours and a free limited-edition card to celebrate the event; the Giant African Land Snail, available on entry between 1st – 31st October.

Autumn is a fabulous time for the zoo’s animals, with pumpkin treats spread over the enclosures for enrichment. Elephants, Goats, Capybaras and Giant tortoises all love to eat pumpkins. Previously, Shaka, the African Elephant was featured squashing a 14 stone pumpkin and Meerkats always love clambering in and out of their pumpkins.

“Many of our animals absolutely love getting a special pumpkin treat. They can provide great enrichment for our meerkats to explore, our elephants to squash and our lions to play with.” Said Curator Chris Wilkinson.

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