From Patch to Park: Pumpkins Enriching Wildlife Lives
Pumpkin season doesn’t end in the fall for the Pineland Farms Produce Division! Our pumpkins make an impact, even during the giving season. When we have leftover pumpkins, they go directly to the Maine Wildlife Park to help brighten up some animal enclosures and help Byron the moose stay healthy all year round!
Pineland Farms has been donating roughly 1200 pounds of pumpkins to the Maine Wildlife Park for the past five years. They have great nutritional value for the animals and are an environmentally-friendly way of treating them.
Staff carefully prepares the produce for the animals, and has a blast doing so!
How are pumpkins beneficial to wildlife?
Pumpkins offer significant nutritional value. They’re rich in vitamins A, C and E, as well as minerals like potassium and iron. For wildlife, especially herbivores like deer or moose, these nutrients are essential for their overall health, growth and immune function.
The fiber in them can help support healthy digestion for animals, which is how Byron the moose is benefiting. Pumpkin can act as a natural source of roughage, promoting gut health and regular bowel movements. Those factors paired with the hydration this produce naturally gives are bound to help gut health. It’s also not a regular part of a wildlife animal’s diet as pumpkins are more difficult to come across than other natural resources for these animals, which provides dietary variation.
As natural foragers, pumpkins can also provide a fun challenge to wildlife. Offering this fall favorite as part of the animals’ diet can provide mental and physical stimulation. Wildlife often enjoy the challenge of breaking into the pumpkin’s tough exterior to access the soft interior, mimicking natural foraging behaviors.
Providing supplementary food sources during seasons when natural forage might be scarce can help mitigate food shortages for wildlife populations, thereby supporting their conservation. Donating surplus pumpkins to wildlife parks or sanctuaries not only benefits the animals but also contributes to reducing food waste, promoting sustainable practices as well.
The animals love it just as much as we love treating them to some delicious pumpkins!