Although the weather we've experienced over the last few weeks may not have shown it, spring has arrived. Everyone is ready to get outside and enjoy themselves. Before your calendar fills up, be sure to include the zoo in your plans.

If it's been a while since your last visit, you don't want to miss seeing our newest additions: a baby addax born in February, another new addax that joined our herd recently from Rolling Hills in Salina and a snow leopard from the zoo in Albuquerque. Ariel, our North American river otter, gave birth to three pups in February. The pups are old enough that she is now allowing them (sometimes even dragging them) outside periodically. All three are on their way to being expert swimmers. The Safari Shoppe is open daily (weather permitting), with new menu items, assorted souvenirs and gifts, as well as Safari Cycles to rent for a pedal-powered cruise around the zoo.

Seasonal changes that will occur as the weather settles into spring and stops dipping back into winter include the kangaroo mob returning to the exhibit yard that they share with the emus. The otter overlook provides a good vantage point for viewing the roos as they hop through the yard or relax under a tree. The kookaburras, Luzon bleeding heart doves, hamerkops and other birds that required warmer temperatures over our winter also will make a return to their outdoor exhibits from off-exhibit indoor holding areas where they have "vacationed" for the winter. Local weather conditions usually allow their return to the flight cages around Mother's Day.

If you're planning a little further ahead and have anyone in the family that's entering first through eighth grade, consider signing them up for Zoo Edventures.

It's a week full of summer fun. Each class is designed specifically for the age of the children attending and covers topics ranging from how primates move, animal senses and adaptations, all the way to what it takes to be a wildlife biologist. The kids will enjoy time outside and learn some fun new things, too. Call the zoo, 276-1250, for more information.

Kids aren't the only ones that can have summer fun at the zoo. Mark June 10 down for attending Blues at the Zoo.

It's an evening full of great music by the Nighthawks and your choice of delectable barbecue delights from a select sampling of vendors. Friends of Lee Richardson Zoo also is hosting Global Bazaar on June 22. It will be a blend of crafts and foods from around the world. You'll be sure to find something to tickle your fancy and your taste buds. The fourth weekend of August brings the return of Tumbleweed Festival. Festival organizers offer a relaxing atmosphere filled with a wide array of music, kids' crafts and food. The festival is sponsored by Tumbleweed Festival Inc., and is held on the West Green at Lee Richardson Zoo.

Sept. 7 is the date for "A Wild Affair," an evening at the zoo sampling tasty treats from area restaurants. But don't get too weighed down. You'll want to be able to jump out of your chair and bid on your favorite items during a spirited live auction. Don't forget to test your bidding strategy and stealth at the silent auction.

As with all FOLRZ events and the Safari Shoppe, all proceeds go toward making improvements at the zoo. Oct. 19 will be the night for little ghouls, goblins and princesses to take over the zoo.

It's Boo! At The Zoo!, an event that has been a community favorite for years. It is a kid-safe, spook-tacular not to be missed. For the adults bringing the little ones that are filling their goody bags, you'll also get your full dose of cuteness watching all the various pirates, super heroes, bumblebees and dragons romping through the zoo.

Not to be left off the calendar, Cat Canyon is currently estimated to open late this summer so that's another time you'll want to be sure to visit Lee Richardson Zoo. But you don't have to wait for the opening or an event to see all the changes or visit the zoo.

Come any day you need a little outdoor time. Watch our progress as Cat Canyon gets ever closer to opening day and visit your favorite animal friends along the way.

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