Orphaned bear cubs having some fall fun after being gifted a 465-pound pumpkin

It’s November, and with all the Halloween fun in the rearview mirror many of us have been left wondering what to do with all our pumpkins as they slowly turn from festive decorations to decomposing gourds.

But there are many productive things you can do with your old pumpkins, including several ways that benefit animals. Recently, two rescued bears were gifted a massive, 465-pound pumpkin — and it’s their new favorite thing.

According to KPBS, the giant gourd was grown by Kristen and Jason Bush of Escondido, California, who grow extra-large pumpkins as a hobby.

“This is our COVID hobby that we started with some neighbors. We all said ‘hey, let’s work in our yards and see how big of a pumpkin we can grow,’” Kristen told KPBS.

After years of attempts, they finally grew the pumpkin of their dreams with a 465-pound Atlantic Giant pumpkin, they largest they’ve ever grown. It was so big they had to construct a homemade device just to keep it in place.

They were proud of their achievement, but weren’t sure what to do next: they wanted their giant pumpkin to have some greater purpose.

Eventually, they found the perfect place to donate the pumpkin: the San Diego Humane Society, who said it would be a perfect enrichment for two of their bear cubs.

In a Twitter post, the humane society said that the two bears were orphans who had been found near their deceased mother in the San Bernardino National Forest. They have been in the care of their Ramona Wildlife Center since July.

“We always do our best to provide natural enrichment to all of our animals. The bear cubs in particular, it’s really good to give them enrichment they can eat or tear apart,” wildlife rehabilitation supervisor Angela Hernandez-Cusick told KPBS. “So a 460-pound pumpkin is actually going to be amazing to provide to them.”

On Sunday, the megapumpkin was delivered to the San Diego Humane Society, and the bears have been loving it ever since.

“Our bears have been exploring and playing since the giant pumpkin was moved into their enclosure yesterday!” the San Diego Humane Society wrote, saying they were “very grateful” to the Bushes for their donation.

“The play lasted all night long! The two bear cubs just loved this giant surprise in their enclosure,” they wrote. “Into the morning, the bear cubs kept going, playing with their new giant pumpkin. Enrichment that allows these bears to exhibit natural behaviors is key.”

They also said they plan to reintroduce the orphaned cubs to the wild early next year.

Your pumpkins might not be quite this large, but there are still many productive ways you can re-use your pumpkins to help animals. Pumpkins are nutritious and animals will happily chomp down on them.

You can contact your local shelter or wildlife rescue to see if they take donations, or you can leave pumpkin chunks out in your yard as a tasty snack for the local squirrels, raccoons, deer and other wildlife. (Just make sure your pumpkin is free from any potential harmful decorations, such as any paint, glitter or candle residue you used on your jack-o-lantern.)

These bears love their new pumpkin! Thank you for donating this amazing gift to these animals in need!

Please share this amazing news if you love animals!