HIPPOS at West Midland Safari Park have been celebrating the spookiest of seasons with a game of 'pumpkin bobbing'.

During the park's daily encounters, the pod of six common hippopotamus are usually fed large chunks of cabbage, but to save the park's Halloween pumpkins going to waste, the keepers decided to treat the animals to spooky squashes instead.

Barbel, Friday, Gussie, Hilary, Helen and Mavis make up the largest hippo pod in Europe and they spend most of their time wallowing on the mud bank next to their lake.

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Although a hippo would never come across a pumpkin in the wild, it is important that the hippos’ skin is kept moist, so being inquisitive animals, the floating pumpkins help entice the animals into the water - even on colder days.

Ian Nock, deputy head keeper of ungulates, said: “It is an important part of a keeper’s job to try and provide enrichment in different ways for the animals in our care.

"The six hippos we have here at the safari park get cabbage daily at our hippo encounters, which guests can throw into the water for them.

"However, at this time of year the park has been themed with over 600 pumpkins, so the keepers often swap these with the animals’ normal vegetables.”

He added: “Being herbivores, a hippo’s diet consists of plants, grass and vegetables, so having pumpkins is a perfect seasonal treat for them.

"Plus, there is the added attraction that the pumpkins float, so this means that they get to play with them first, which provides extra exercise before getting to eat this tasty treat!”

During the Spooky Spectacular event, West Midland Safari Park is themed with 100 scarecrows which guests will be able to see in all their glory when they are illuminated after dark during the park’s extended opening hours on weekends and half-term.

Brave guests will also be able to experience the Adventure Theme Park and Land of the Living Dinosaurs in the dark.

Additionally, guests can take part in a competition to win a family annual pass plus by taking their picture with a spooky character and uploading it to the park’s Facebook page. Guests are also encouraged to attend in Halloween fancy dress to join in with the frightful fun.