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Deka the Tortoise checks out the green goodies in this Halloween pumpkin Sunday at the Okinawa City Zoo. About 40 American and Okinawa students offered the animals food placed in Jack-o-Lanterns as part of a scientific experiment and cultural exchange program.

Deka the Tortoise checks out the green goodies in this Halloween pumpkin Sunday at the Okinawa City Zoo. About 40 American and Okinawa students offered the animals food placed in Jack-o-Lanterns as part of a scientific experiment and cultural exchange program. (Chiyomi Sumida / S&S)

Deka the Tortoise checks out the green goodies in this Halloween pumpkin Sunday at the Okinawa City Zoo. About 40 American and Okinawa students offered the animals food placed in Jack-o-Lanterns as part of a scientific experiment and cultural exchange program.

Deka the Tortoise checks out the green goodies in this Halloween pumpkin Sunday at the Okinawa City Zoo. About 40 American and Okinawa students offered the animals food placed in Jack-o-Lanterns as part of a scientific experiment and cultural exchange program. (Chiyomi Sumida / S&S)

Goats go for Halloween treats in pumpkins provided by American and Okinawa students during a cultural exchange program Sunday at the Okinawa City Zoo.

Goats go for Halloween treats in pumpkins provided by American and Okinawa students during a cultural exchange program Sunday at the Okinawa City Zoo. (Chiyomi Sumida / S&S)

Kadena Middle School students watch black-handed spider monkeys pull treats from a pumpkin Sunday at the Okinawa City Zoo.

Kadena Middle School students watch black-handed spider monkeys pull treats from a pumpkin Sunday at the Okinawa City Zoo. (Chiyomi Sumida / S&S)

Thomas Cote, a member of Club ZERO science club at Kadena Middle School, watches a black-handed spider monkey grab a treat in a pumpkin on Sunday.

Thomas Cote, a member of Club ZERO science club at Kadena Middle School, watches a black-handed spider monkey grab a treat in a pumpkin on Sunday. (Chiyomi Sumida / S&S)

OKINAWA CITY — A group from Kadena Middle School introduced Japanese students to some Halloween fun Sunday at the Okinawa City Zoo. And even the animals got treats.

It was all part of a cultural and “scientific” exchange sponsored by the middle school’s Club ZERO, which stands for Zoological Environmental Research Opportunity.

Led by science teacher Kristin Shelton, the 28 American students delivered 50 pumpkins and then shared their carving skills with 22 students from nearby Koza Junior High School who were unfamiliar with the Halloween custom.

In less than two hours, all 50 pumpkins had turned into jack-o’-lanterns.

“It was fun,” said seventh-grader Yoshito Tamaki. “I had never done this before, but my American partner taught me well.”

But these jack-o’-lanterns had a purpose beyond just providing a Halloween glow: They were used as food containers for the zoo animals, who soon attacked them with the fervor of kids examining their sacks of goodies after a full night of trick-or-treating.

Some of the pumpkins were hung on ropes for the animals to play with. One big goat drew cheers from the students when he stuck his whole head into a pumpkin to get to the food.

“It was really fun,” said Victoria Seda, a Club ZERO member who participated in the event for the second year.

Akira Fukuchi of Koza Junior High agreed.

“This was a great opportunity for us to work with friends whom we seldom have a chance to meet with,” he said.

The Okinawa students were excited about participating, said Akiko Matayoshi, one of the two teachers from Koza.

“They were so anxious that they arrived at the zoo early,” she said.

“Even those who are often late for school came early today,” chimed in Koza teacher Hatsuko Uehara.


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