“Boo at Zoo 2009” is Educational and Entertaining

Cindy Garcia

Celebrating Halloween never has been as wild and as educational before.

This year the Los Angeles Zoo becomes a spooky place to present “Boo at Zoo 2009,” with educational and entertainment activities for children.

Children have the opportunity to trick-or-treat around the zoo as they watch wild animals joining the Halloween celebration in the “Animal Stomp ‘n Chomp.”

In this activity, the black bears, meerkats and tigers delight their palettes, eating stuffed pumpkins with romaine lettuce and honey. Each animal is in its respective cages and their performances are scheduled at different times, making it possible to enjoy the three different shows.

Watching a bear eating pumpkins is not an ordinary thing for Carla Montes, 34, from Burbank, who finds it very enjoyable. ” [It] is something that you are not able to see very often,” she said. Montes came with her husband Matt and her 6-year-old daughter Natalie. “She [Natalie] enjoyed looking at the bear and couldn’t stop smiling and screaming, ‘look at the bear mommy,'” added Montes.

Another fun and spooky activity is the “Creepy Creature Encounter,” located at the Children’s Zoo area. Children are able to touch and learn about different reptiles and insects such as stink bugs, gopher snakes, walking sticks, and millipedes. The zoo’s volunteers explain a little bit of everything about the animals, from their diet to their natural habitat condition and location.

For Sarah Jones, 9, this has been a fun and rewarding experience. “I used to be scared of bugs in my house, but now that I touched some I am not that scared anymore” she said.

When touching the animals, children and adults are asked to use only two fingers for the animals, and children’s safety. Parents do not need be worried about bacteria and germs because sanitizing gel is provided after touching the bugs and snakes.

After having those “Creepy Creature Encounters,” this Halloween experience can get even more exciting when children become spelunkers, or cave explorers. As they enter to the dark gray concrete caves, the atmosphere becomes thrilling as children crawl inside of a 14-feet-long cave tunnel. There are also insects such as tarantulas and scorpions in glass exhibits to bring to life the feeling of being in a real cave.

To relax a little bit from all those exciting and frightening moments, the “Pumpkin Patch Place” offers a memorable scene to capture in camera. This area is designed for children to pose for their parents’ cameras as they wear their Halloween costumes.

The place is fully decorated with pumpkins of all sizes and colors. Without a doubt, the giant and colossal orange pumpkins are the biggest attraction. The pumpkins are different shades of orange with an approximately two to three feet in diameter, large enough that it’s impossible wrap them around with both arms.

For Mariah Jackson, 29, from Montebello, the “Pumpkin Patch Place” was her favorite part of the Boo at L.A. Zoo. “I love this place,” she said. “We took so many pictures to remember my daughter’s first visit to zoo.”

“Birds of Halloween” gives children the opportunity to practice their science skills as they play with dissected owl pellets and discover the main diet of owls. Children are challenged to match the bones of the owl’s pellets with the correct shape of the bones on a sheet of paper.

Heather Shields, education manager at the zoo, said that this experience allows kids to learn at the time they play and celebrate Halloween.”It’s fun and ghoulish at the same time,” she said.

To conclude with this spooky adventure or just to have a family picnic, the “Neil Papino Play Park Area” offers a calm escape from the creepy world to rest and have a tasty lunch weather brought from home or bought at the zoo’s grill.

Have a wild and spooky Halloween at the Los Angeles Zoo Saturday and Sunday
Admission is $13 for adults and $8 for children and parking is free.

For more information visit www.lazoo.org