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Friday, October 21, 2011

Halloween - it's simples! Meerkats play trick or treat by putting their heads into pumpkins

By Emma Reynolds

Hollow smile: A meerkat sticks his head into a pumpkin to reach the treats inside

These meerkats appear to be getting into the spirit of Halloween by sticking their heads into hollowed-out pumpkins.

Staff at Port Lympne Wild Animal Park near Ashford, Kent, tempted the cuddly creatures into a game of trick or treat by filling the pumpkins with cockroaches and crickets.

One of the animals appears to give a friend a leg up to reach the prize, while others band together to get at the snacks hanging from a string just above their heads.

Spooky costume: The furry animal looks like it is dressed up for Halloween as it stretches to get a snack

Leg up: One meerkat cleverly uses another to get to the dangling pumpkin

Adrian Harland, animal director at Port Lympne, said: 'We filled mini pumpkins with crickets and suspended them over the open-topped enclosure.

'The meerkat clan were all highly curious and couldn't resist the unusual objects.

'Some decided to attack the pumpkins but one was highly ingenious and stuck its head right inside the pumpkin to eat all the goodies before the rest of the clan could get to it.'

This meerkat can be seen clinging on to the swinging pumpkin as it scrambles to eat all the goodies inside.

The zoo's gorillas also got the chance to eat dinner from pumpkins, which were filled with their favourite seeds and nuts before being put into their enclosure.

Hocus pocus: Three of the inquisitive creatures try to get to grips with the mysterious hanging object

Double trouble: Two friends battle to get a taste of the creepy-crawly treats inside

I dare you: One meerkat looks on as its friend gets inside the pumpkin

A gorilla named Ambam - the most popular with park visitors because he walks like a human - took his away to have it all to himself.

'The family group and the silverbacks got stuck into the pumpkins straight away,' said Mr Harland.

'Ambam decided to rip his in half and walk off to a space by himself so that he would not get disturbed as he ate.'

The animal director added: 'It is important to provide enrichment for our animals.

'This helps keep them interested and offers new challenges for them.

'The pumpkins were perfect because the animals had to work out how to retrieve the treats inside.'

There are no reports at this time of plans to provide the animals with toffee apples.



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