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Smashing pumpkins does the trick for elephants

It was the smashing pumpkins show at Dublin Zoo yesterday.

Led by five-year-old Anak, the zoo's elephants (pictured right) revelled in stomping, kicking and throwing around the newly decorated Halloween pumpkins ahead of this weekend's festivities.

"Anak would be coming into the adolescent stage in elephanthood and she is very mischievous and full of devilment. That is why she is first out, she wants to make sure she is not missing anything," Dublin Zoo manager Gerry Creighton explained.

"It is a new object, something different. It is very enriching for them. They get pumpkins once a year. They are breaking them open. We put nuts inside them so they are looking for the nuts."

The Asian elephants, who came to the zoo from Rotterdam in 2006, have 24-hour access to their outdoor enclosure at the zoo's Kazaringa Forest Trail. Two of the family were born at the zoo, including Asha, the first elephant born in Ireland, and one-and-a-half-year-old Budi (pictured top left).

A 'pumpkin walk' will take place at the zoo on Saturday, with visitors invited to bring along their own pumpkins to line the walkway. They will also be able to watch some of the animals being fed the seasonal fruit.

Among the Halloween festivities will be a 'creepy' parade, a market, face painters and special talks by zoo keepers on some of the zoo's creepy crawlies.

Mr Creighton said the slight chill in the air at this time of year keeps the animals very active. "It is a really good time to visit," he said. "You have a lot of animals starting to mate and be quite frisky this time of year. They are kind of showing off to each other."

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