Halloween arrives early for inhabitants of Detroit Zoo

Animal care staff at the zoo in suburban Royal Oak provided special seasonal munchies to anteaters, great apes, grizzly bears, penguins and vultures, among others.

Pumpkins are filled with treats that some of the animals get to smash open

Each year in October as Halloween approaches, some animals — like this Macaroni Penguin — receive pumpkins filled with treats to eat. The enrichment items are hidden through out the animals' habitats or prepared and placed in a manner to stimulate natural behaviours. (Carlos Osorio/Associated Press)

Halloween has arrived ahead of schedule at the Detroit Zoo, where inhabitants are enjoying some frightfully good fare.

Animal care staff at the zoo in suburban Royal Oak on Wednesday provided special seasonal munchies to anteaters, great apes, grizzly bears, penguins and vultures, among others.

On the menu: pumpkins, cornstalks and other fall harvest goodies, which are filled with treats that some of the animals get to smash open.

It was all part of the Detroit Zoo's annual Smashing Pumpkins event.

A polar bear shakes off as she holds a pumpkin at the Detroit Zoo (Carlos Osorio/Associated Press)

As always, the highlight for many zoo visitors was the distribution of pumpkins to the polar bears, who toiled both above and below the water to acquire their orange surprises.

Curator of mammals Elizabeth Arbaugh says it's the zoo staff's mission to make sure animals' habitats are enriched, and this is a solid — and fun — way to do that.

A polar bear reaches for a pumpkin at the Detroit Zoo. (Carlos Osorio/Associated Press)

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