Pumpkins Without The Spice

We Think You’re So Nice

November 19, 2020

‘Tis the season for the yearly pumpkin slaughter at Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge. The apex predators who have found their forever home with us sharpen their claws and practice their stalking skills all year long for this moment: the moment when a host of pumpkins will meet their makers at the hands (er, paws) of these vivacious hunters!

This year, the pumpkin migration came to a halt because of course, it’s 2020. Perhaps less people put up pumpkins in celebration of Halloween this year; perhaps it’s because we are getting much less visitors than typical, or perhaps most people don’t have the spare change or desire to brave a germ-filled store just to buy a couple of pumpkins then haul them over to Eureka Springs.

Amid a flurry of balancing finances this year to ensure our animal residents are fed, given their daily meds, and comfortable in their habitats, a pumpkin shortage is not necessarily something we took into account. The pumpkins do not serve as a food source for animals, other than what few bear residents live here, but even then, they have a variety of other produce to nosh on. No, the pumpkins are simply a new form of unsuspecting prey that makes their way into the hunting grounds of the brave beasts lurking in leaf-filled habitats. They are a variety of enrichment our big cats look forward to every year, and while they might not fill any bellies, they keep our animal residents from getting the blues. Just think- if you were an apex predator denied your opportunity to use your hunting skills, you’d get pretty down too! By providing diversified opportunities for our animal residents to engage their instincts, they stay happy, rather than anxious and depressed. Happy animals are more motivated to exercise, eat, and live life to the fullest, which is all we want for the Survivors of the Trade who find their way to us.

Pumpkins are a big deal to everyone, not just the people waiting in line at coffee shops for their spiced lattes. So, we put out a quick call on our social networks: two posts total, to be exact. After only the first post, many of you reached out and offered to donate some orange prey to be hunted down! You braved the stores, you gave from your own patches, you drove more than an hour, and you delivered what to an onlooker might see as a simple gift, but actually made all the difference in the world to our animal residents. Even days later, you were coming back to that simple Facebook post, tagging your friends and asking if they had any pumpkins to spare. You formed a regular Pumpkin Task Force and hunted down the gourd goodies so efficiently that we are thankful you aren’t a big cat!

Thanks to you, the annual pumpkin migration has finally started, much to our animal residents’ delights! We will be sure to show you plenty of content in the coming weeks that capture the results of the fruits of your labor. On behalf of every animal who has found freedom and recaptured their wildness, thank you. We hope you have a happy holiday season.