It’s getting close to Halloween, so every supermarket is piled high with pumpkins, the spookiest veg around. For National Pumpkin Day, here’s four unusual facts about the ghoulish gourd.
Ghost pumpkins really exist
…but they’re not actual ghosts (sorry!). Although the orange pumpkin is the most iconic, pumpkins grow in a variety of colours, including yellow, pink and blue. White varieties have been spookily nicknamed ‘ghost pumpkins’ due to their pale colour.
Pumpkin Latte could have been Turnip Latte
Pumpkins weren’t always the Halloween veg of choice. In the early days of jack-o-lanterns, scary faces were originally carved into turnips. It wasn’t until Irish immigrants brought the tradition over to America that pumpkins gained their association with Halloween, as they were much more easily available and easier to carve than the turnip.
Pumpkins are actually a fruit
Despite being know commonly as a vegetable, pumpkins are actually a fruit from the same family as melons. Their name even comes from a bad translation of the French for ‘big melon’, which is how they were originally known.
Pumpkins aren’t just for carving
Nearly every part of the pumpkin is edible, pumpkin flesh can be boiled, pureed, and curried into a variety of delicious recipes, while the seeds can be roasted for a healthy snack - even pumpkin flowers can be cooked and eaten. The only part of the pumpkin you can’t eat is the hard skin, handily the only part you need for your jack-o-lanterns, so this Halloween try making some tasty treats from your pumpkins too.
From David Attenborough documentaries to The Lion King, exotic nature reserves to the pets in our own homes, the Animal Kingdom is a place of constant fascination and inspiration for us. Every year we discover more and more species of creature we share our planet with, but at the same time an increasing number of animals are under threat from global warming, pollution, deforestation and other challenges.
A sleek jaguar is the star of our newest Wild Thing, Born With Cattitude, but this beautiful animal and other big cats are increasingly in danger of extinction.
What threats do big cats face in the wild today?
Deforestation; lots of big cats are jungle dwellers, including Indian tigers and South American jaguars, and in many parts of the world their habitat is being destroyed to make way for plantations.
Wildlife trade; many big cats are still hunted and killed by humans for their body parts. Leopards and tigers are hunted for their pelts and their bones are sought after for use in traditional medicine. Some big cats are also sold on as exotic pets to owners who are unable to care for them properly.
Human conflict; farmers will sometimes kill big cats in ‘revenge’ for the cats preying on their livestock. Big cats hunting livestock has become increasingly common as their habitat is destroyed and the human population around them grows, reducing their usual prey.
Who are The Big Cat Sanctuary and what do they do?
Set in the heart of the English countryside, The Big Cat Sanctuary provides a peaceful home for over 50 endangered big cats as well as a specialised centre of research to improve our knowledge of the majestic creatures they house. Experts in the breeding of big cats, the Sanctuary is helping to ensure the survival of these magnificent animals through their work.
The initiatives undertaken at The Big Cat Sanctuary are vital to saving some of the most endangered and iconic species on the planet from extinction. There are various projects which include co-ordinated breeding, contributions to frontline conservation strategies and the welfare of the sanctuary’s resident cats, who are not only ambassadors of their wild cousins, but also play an active role in securing a future for all wildlife and our natural world.
Where do we come in?
The Big Cat Sanctuary will be receiving 5% of profits from sales of Wild Things own big cat, the new jaguar design Born With Cattitude. Born With Cattitude was inspired by The Big Cat Sanctuary’s own sassy jaguar, Maya, who recently stole hearts in the BBC documentary series Big Cats About the House.
*The Big Cat Sanctuary is trademarked by the Wildlife Heritage Foundation Limited. Registered Charity no. 1104420.