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Elephants ready to demolish giant pumpkins for Halloween

Oregon Zoo today celebrates the 25th anniversary of its iconic Squish the Squash event.

Two elephants stomp on giant pumpkins at Oregon Zoo

Oregon Zoo elephants pulverize giant pumpkins during last year’s Squish the Squash event.

Photo by Shervin Hess/Oregon Zoo

First they destroy them, then they enjoy them.

No, those words aren’t from a horror film, Oregon Zoo elephant handler Steve Lefave is referring to the Squish the Squash event — one of the most unique animal Halloween traditions in the world.

This morning marks the event’s 25th anniversary, when the zoo’s Asian elephants will demolish some of the region’s largest pumpkins at 10:30 a.m.

Trust us, this is an event worth tuning in for. “We’ll be giving our elephant family some extra-large pumpkins to stomp on and chomp on,” Lefave said.

The tradition started in 1999 when Hoffman’s Dairy Garden of Canby provided an 828-pound pumpkin for the elephant family to enjoy. Since then, local farmers have continued to donate overstock pumpkins each year for the zoo to use.

The event is a lead-in for the zoo’s Howloween celebrations, held Oct. 28-29.