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If you go
What: Wild Zoo Halloween
Where: Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo, 3411 Sherman Blvd.
When: Noon to 5 p.m. Thursday through Sunday and Oct. 31
Cost: $4 for children, $8 for adults, and zoo members get $2 off per person Special days
Thursday: Pumpkin-decorating workshop
Friday: Free train rides
Saturday: Princess day – Meet and take pictures with Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Tiana and Snow White from 1 to 4 p.m. in the Australian Adventure Plaza
Sunday: Magic Day – Magic shows in the Australian Adventure Plaza
Oct. 31: Animals and pumpkins – Zoo animals receive pumpkin treats 1 to 4 p.m.
Ariamari Snyder, 7, stops to drink from the Bill the lion water fountain Sunday at the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo.
Children’s Zoo celebrates Halloween

Many empty cages, much uncaged fun

Photos by Swikar Patel | The Journal Gazette
A kid dressed as Darth Vader runs through the tunnel to Africa wielding a light saber Sunday during Wild Zoo Halloween.

– Ghosts and witches, pirates and princesses geared up for a day of Halloween-themed fun at the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo on Sunday.

Many of the cages were empty as zoogoers wandered through the main zoo and into some parts of Africa and Australia areas, but some familiar faces were out and about, like the peacocks, ring-tailed lemurs, bobcats, wallabies and sea lions. Animals accustomed to tropical temperatures and all reptiles have been moved indoors for the zoo’s offseason. Some cages, empty of inhabitants, featured painted look-alikes made out of pumpkins.

“Most people understand that many animals won’t be out,” said Jennifer Griswold, entrance manager for the zoo. “There’s just not a whole lot of Halloween stuff to do in Fort Wayne for our demographic.”

Wild Zoo Halloween opened Friday to more than 550 people, up from about 500 last year despite Friday’s rainy weather. Star Wars Day on Saturday drew more than 3,000 people. The fundraising event is in its third year, a switch from previous years when the event was held at night, often too late for many children, the zoo’s key audience, Griswold said.

“Because we’re a children’s zoo, this event is geared at younger children; It’s more fun, more family-focused,” said Kathy Terlizzi, volunteer manager.

She said the animals that can withstand the fall weather also enjoy seeing kids in costume.

“The animals really miss the crowds. It’s fun for them too,” she said.

Despite many animals being inside for the season, there’s no shortage of things to do at the zoo during Wild Zoo Halloween.

Each day is themed and boasts a host of activities for families like animal shows, games, Monster Mash dance party, a beading station and a corn maze. A new one this year is a pumpkin decorating workshop scheduled for Thursday. Guests can also see entrants of the zoo’s Scarecrow Safari contest on display as part of a “merry, not scary” exhibit.

“We really urge people to come out,” Terlizzi said. “It’s a good time, even for the adults.”