Have you ever wondered what happens to giant pumpkins that are grown for competition? While some win prizes, others just lay on their sides, and they won't fit into a stew pot. Besides, they don't make good pies. In Portland, they make good use of them. Recently, Larry Nelson and Jacob Baldridge of the Pacific Giant Vegetable Growers Club took a load of giant pumpkins to the Oregon Zoo for the annual ritual called the Squishing of the Squash. Every year since 1999, the zoo welcomes the shipment of fall gourds for the elephants, who have their way with the pumpkins. "First, they destroy them, then they enjoy them," elephant keeper Dimas Dominguez said.
This year's pumpkin shipment included one that weighed 650 pounds! The elephants made short work of them, digging in with a satisfying crunch. The excess produce provides the pachyderms with an enrichment experience and added nutrition. A trick with a treat, so it seems.
See more Squishing of the Squash videos from previous years.