Families flock to ‘Feast with the Beast’ at the zoo

SALT LAKE CITY — While people across the country were celebrating the holiday Thursday, the animal kingdom was enjoying a Thanksgiving feast of their own.

"It kind of makes me feel connected to the animals, like we’re enjoying the same things at the same time," Lillian Welsh said.

Utahns stood outside in the cold waiting for the gates to open to attend the annual "Feast with the Beast" event at Hogle Zoo.

"We come to the zoo every Thanksgiving, and we come to 'Feast with the Beast.' We love seeing all the animals get their treats," Heidi Crum said.

Zoo staff said they encourage people to come for a visit while the turkey is in the oven. These animals didn't get turkey, but they did get turkey shaped pinatas, fish, and lots of pumpkins.

"I just saw a fish, well, a polar bear get a fish," Miles Guilbert said.

The elephant "Stomp and Chomp" is the biggest attraction at "Feast with the Beast," and zoo representative said elephants eat up to 200 pounds of food a day. The pumpkins were just their Thanksgiving lunch.

"They know what's in them, so they’ll press them against the wall to pop them open, they'll use their heads, their feet, and they'll just crack them open, because sometimes it’s fun to eat," said Jason Sorstoake, elephant zoo keeper at Utah Hogle Zoo.

These elephants were thankful for their treats.

"They just came running in with their ears out, excited to eat all these pumpkins," Sorstoake said.

Visitors also gave thanks of their own.

"I am thankful for animals and the planet," Welsh said.

"I’m thankful for my health," Crum said.

"I’m thankful for my family," Kaitlyn Marsh said.

ZooLights kicks off this coming Friday at Utah Hogle Zoo.

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