Denver Zoo divers treat fish to underwater pumpkin-carving show

As if carving a pumpkin on land wasn’t difficult enough: A group of creative staff members at the Denver Zoo in Colorado recently treated the saltwater aquarium fish to an underwater pumpkin-carving show.

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In the video, released on Oct. 23, Tropical Discovery dive specialists Alex and Tim got into the spooky spirit as they carved fish shapes into pumpkins. The footage showed fish swimming up to the gourds as the divers worked.

Alex Saunders, a zookeeper with the Denver Zoo, said he has been diving for at least 25 years. 

"When we are diving we want everything to go as smoothly as possible because, even in a giant fishtank, diving can still be dangerous," Saunders revealed.

Saunders also noted that the process can be challenging. 

"I think picking a pattern that will transfer well to underwater carving is the hardest thing. The pumpkins get soft fairly quickly underwater and so fine lines and intricate details can be hard to do," Saunders said. "Also, our tools are usually plastic, so they float, and having your carving tools float away isn’t fun for anyone. The tops of the pumpkin want to float away as well."

According to the zoo, underwater pumpkin carving, while festive, also provides nutrition for fish at the zoo’s Tropical Discovery enclosure.

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“It’s October, and that means it’s time for festive enrichment!” Denver Zoo said. “While festive for humans, this is also great for the fish, who enjoy this activity as our predators might enjoy a carcass feeding.”

The zoo said that fish are Omnivores – eat both meat and vegetables – or are Vegetarians, so the the pumpkin adds a bit of novel food to their diet. 

"I think 2020 has been a hard year for everyone, and a bit of irrelevance that underwater pumpkin carving brings hopefully makes someone smile and have a better day," Saunders said.

Storyful contributed to this story.