Zoo readies treats for guests, animals during Howloween

October 19, 2020 - 11:11am
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For many families, trick-or-treating is not in the cards this year, but that doesn't mean we can't get in the Halloween spirit. During the Oregon Zoo's annual Howloween festivities, presented by The Oregonian, kids can show off their costumes and learn about wildlife in a fun and safe setting, Oct. 24­–25 and Oct. 29­–Nov. 1.

"Like everything else, Halloween will look a little different this time around, but we're still going to have a good time," zoo events manager Nikki Simmons said. "We've got fun things planned for both kids and animals."

A scavenger hunt around the zoo teaches kids about wildlife. And throughout the day, guests can watch as animals enjoy holiday-themed treats like jack-o'-lanterns stuffed with snacks. Activities are free with zoo admission, and treat bags are available for an additional fee of $3 per participant.

To help ensure a safe experience for all, the following measures will be in place during this year's Howloween:

  • Timed ticketing/limited attendance: All guests — including zoo members — must reserve their tickets in advance via the zoo website. (Please note that due to capacity restrictions, even infants need to be counted. Infants are free with a paid adult admission, but must have a ticket.)
  • Reduced contact: Guests follow a one-way, mostly open-air path through the zoo. Instead of collecting candy and toys throughout the zoo, Howloween participants may purchase pre-filled treat bags that can be collected at the end of their scavenger hunt. All candy is made by companies that are switching to deforestation-free palm oil.
  • Masks/face coverings: Face masks are required for everyone 5 years and older while visiting. Individuals who have a medical condition that makes it hard to breathe — or a disability that prevents them from wearing a mask — can request an accommodation.

Learn more about what to expect when you visit, or to purchase tickets.

Items like treat-filled pumpkins are part of the Oregon Zoo's world-renowned environmental enrichment program, which helps animals stay active and mentally engaged. It was here in the 1980s that the concept of environmental enrichment was established. The first international animal enrichment conference was held at the Oregon Zoo in 1993, producing the book Second Nature, co-edited by former Oregon Zoo deputy conservation manager Dr. David Shepherdson and Dr. Jill Mellen, a member of the zoo's animal welfare committee.