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Oregon Zoo elephants smash massive pumpkins at annual 'Squishing of the Squash'

Elephant Herd Squishes Giant Pumpkins At 2021 Squishing Of The Squash - Oregon Zoo photo - 2.jpg
Elephants pulverize giant pumpkins at the Oregon Zoo's annual Squishing of the Squash. ©Oregon Zoo/ photo by Shervin Hess

PORTLAND, Ore. (KATU) – A favorite fall tradition, the annual “Squishing of the Squash” at the Oregon Zoo, continued Thursday – despite physical distancing requirements preventing a public viewing.

Portland’s resident elephants pulverized some of the region’s biggest pumpkins in what the zoo called a “prelude to ‘Howloween.’”

“Everything looks a little different for us this year, but the elephants didn’t seem to mind,” senior keeper Dimas Dominguez said. “They got one 650-pound pumpkin and a couple more pretty big ones to play with. First, they destroy them, then they enjoy them.”

According to the zoo, the tradition started in 1999 when Hoffman's Dairy Garden in Canby dropped off a prize-winning 828-pound pumpkin for the elephants to enjoy.

"In those days, local farmers often donated overstock pumpkins for use in the zoo’s groundbreaking animal enrichment efforts — improving animals’ well-being by providing stimulating and challenging environments, objects and activities," the zoo said.

This year's pumpkins came from Larry Nelson and Jacob Baldridge of the Pacific Giant Vegetable Growers Club.

The ‘Howloween’ festivities kick off later this month, where the zoo invites kids to come show off their costumes while learning about wildlife.

The weekend events run Oct. 23-24 and Oct. 28–31.