Light-breaking squirrels play Grinch at zoo

Zoo officials said they tried putting hot sauce on the lights, but the squirrels "kind of laughed" at the attempt.
By Ben Hooper Contact the Author   |   Nov. 25, 2014 at 1:11 PM
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CINCINNATI, Nov. 25 (UPI) -- Officials at the Cincinnati Zoo said a pack of Grinchy squirrels are countering their holiday cheer by taking down their festive lights.

Chad Yelton of the Cincinnati Zoo said squirrels gnaw on the LED light strands workers put up for the holiday season and the animals seem intent on keeping the facility's Bear Hill from being bathed in festive illumination.

"This is by far the number one spot for squirrels," Yelton said of Bear Hill. "We've had many a night where it's completely dark."

Yelton said the zoo lost 300 strands of lights in one recent year, "and most of that was on Bear Hill." Officials said the squirrel problem has been going on for several years. Before the switch to LED lights, the squirrels would unscrew the incandescent bulbs, apparently mistaking them for nuts.

Yelton said the zoo tried using hot sauce to deter the squirrels, but "they kind of laughed at it."

"You know, it didn't really do much. I think we felt good about it, but it didn't do much," he said.

Steve Foltz, director of horticulture at the zoo, said the yearly attempt to safeguard the holiday lights is "a challenge whose smarter, the squirrel or the horticulturists."

Foltz admitted that for the moment, "the squirrels win."

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