Annual Boo at the Zoo event was a spooktacular success


America’s Teaching Zoo’s EATM handlers sharing facts for the crowd about their Military Macaw Kiley at the Boo at the Zoo event in Moorpark, CA on Oct. 30, 2022. Photo credit: Sulor Garretson

By Sulor Garretson

America’s Teaching Zoo shared many tricks and treats at their annual Halloween event, Boo at the Zoo.

The family-friendly Halloween-themed event took place over the weekends of Oct. 22-23 and Oct. 29-30 at America’s Teaching Zoo. The event featured various vendors, animals and activities enjoyable for all ages.

Mara Rodriguez, Moorpark College’s zoo development coordinator and the Ventura County Community College District’s 2022 classified employee of the year, shared last year’s positive outcome with the events attendees.

“The community loved ‘Boo at the Zoo’ and it took the record for highest attendance of all of our events last year,” Rodriguez said.

This year’s event turnout was larger than expected over the course of the two weekends.

Upon arrival, guests were greeted at the front gate with a check-in booth. Younger attendees received goody bags, scavenger hunt maps and raffle tickets.

Once individuals entered the zoo, they were welcomed with a strip of vendors, including Amazon Fresh, Ubatuba and Kona Ice.

Many guests dressed up for the event, sporting different Halloween costumes that involved the whole family.

Mariah Greenslitt, a Ventura County resident who dressed up as a skeleton for the occasion, spoke highly about her first experience at the zoo.

“My mom received a flyer in the mail for Boo at the Zoo,” Greenslitt said. “We decided to attend because my mother thought it would be fun. It has been a great experience and I would definitely come back.”

Throughout the event, there were different photo opportunities and trick-or-treat stands set up where kids received pieces of candy. Many animals were on display for everyone to see and take pictures of.

Exotic Animal Training Management students were available to assist with guests with the animals and have the animals perform various tricks in exchange for a treat.

Boo at the Zoo concluded with a special carnivore demonstration at 3:30 p.m., featuring the zoo’s famous 8-year-old lion, Ira. Guests gathered around Ira’s cage to watch the feeding and to witness the handlers work closely with the large cat.

Second-year Moorpark College student and animal trainer Lacey Antilla spoke about the various reactions guests had during the festive weekend event as well as the animals’ reactions.

“I definitely love seeing all the kids coming in their fun costumes,” Antilla said. “So do the animals. It’s interesting to see their reactions to the costumes, like the tigers getting excited about a kid dressed in a blow-up T-Rex costume.”

When Boo at the Zoo ended, every guest received a coupon for a free return visit to the zoo along with a flyer advertising their next event.

The next event to take place at the zoo is their Wild Lights & Jungle Nights, which will begin at the end of November and run through December.

All proceeds made from Boo at the Zoo went towards funding the America’s Teaching Zoo’s Master Plan. The funds will be used to finish construction of a larger enclosure for the big cats to reside in.