America’s Teaching Zoo hosts the 31st annual Spring Spectacular ‘Zoo Done It?’


Bri Fillips and Julian the donkey preform during the 31st annual Spring Spectacular ‘Zoo Done It?’ on Sunday, March 21, 2021. Photo credit: Ryan Bough

By Valeri Roussak

America’s Teaching Zoo hosted their 31st annual Spring Spectacular, “Zoo Done It?” on March 21. The students of the Exotic Animal Training and Management program all worked together to create an entertaining show for friends and families to come watch.

Zoo Operations and Media Contact, Mara Rodriguez, explained that the Spring Spectacular has been an ongoing event for many years.

“Spring Spectacular has been a tradition at America’s Teaching Zoo since 1991,” Rodriguez shared. “History, commitment and loyalty to providing something fantastic for our community, and giving our students the experience that they were expecting when they joined the program, were the driving forces to keep hosting this event.”

Walking in, visitors were asked to answer a series of health-related screening questions and get their temperatures checked. The show was held in the theatre and had multiple rows of benches closed, to maintain social distancing.

Mackenzie Spencer
Mackenzie Spencer watches Hollywood the Blue fronted Amazon parrot paint a sketch of the 'criminal' on a canvas during the 31st annual Spring Spectacular 'Zoo Done It?' on Sunday, March 21, 2021. Photo credit: Ryan Bough

The Spring Spectacular was hosted for just one day last year, and had to be cancelled for the rest of the performances due to the strike of COVID-19.

“It was all systems go until the day before COVID hit like a ton of bricks, and we had to change everything, cancel all the tickets, and we presented the shows for one day and then we streamed it online,” Rodriguez stated.

First and second year students all contributed to create a safe and fun event for people to enjoy. First year students helped with setting up all equipment and managing lines, while second year students were the trainers and actors in the show. The planning of this started all the way in January.

“Zoo Done It?” is about a set of detectives trying to figure out who caused the disappearance of the zoo director. With the help of many animals, two detectives find out who was responsible for the crime.

Animals such as bobcats, beavers, donkeys and many other kinds were trained to perform multiple tasks in the show, along with some of the students acting and training onstage. Children were excited to see their favorite animals on stage and were shocked when the animals would follow the trainer’s lead.

Salsa the parrot makes his way over to Tova Weisberg
Salsa the parrot moves over to Tova Weisberg to pull the string during the 31st annual Spring Spectacular 'Zoo Done It?' on Sunday, March 21, 2021. Photo credit: Ryan Bough

Eight year old Audri Bautista, from Irvine, visited the zoo with her grandmother and was excited to see all the different animals.

“We wanted to go to the zoo because we really like animals,” Bautista shared. “My favorite animals were the bobcat and the birds, especially Peaches the Cockatoo.”

Second year EATM student, Aimee Dennis, shared that each day consisted of four showtimes, with two of the shows played by a different cast.

“There are two casts, A and B, and we use different animals and students for both shows,” Dennis explained. “We all train an animal that is used in the show, whether we are actually shown on stage or not.”

Spring Spectacular will be held for one more weekend on March 27 and 28. General admission is $10 and tickets to the show are $2. For more information on the Spring Spectacular and to buy tickets visit America’s Teaching Zoo.