‘Lion King Day’ at Charles Paddock Zoo

Photos by Camas Frank

Educational event highlights animals seen in iconic movie

The Charles Paddock Zoo in Atascadero celebrated “Lion King Day” on a scorching hot day reminiscent of the African Savannah on Saturday.

Zookeepers trotted out some of the resident animals from their conservations programs which were featured in the new version of the film by Disney, with talks ranging from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The entertainment icon allows their intellectual property to be used for educational purposes and provided the templates for activity books which the City-run zoo distributed to the first 80 child visitors. The meerkats, hornbills and bat-eared foxes made appearances, but the real news was in the feeding and handling of four baby flamingos to end the day’s event.

The 7-and-a-half-year old Raelyn Wiggins already knew a lot about the fluffy little additions to the Zoo’s flock. Though she was able to describe the filtering “teeth” in the birds’ beaks and understood how Zoo staff have been hand-raising the chicks, as she’d attended camp activity events through the summer, her favorite animals are still the recently added Red Pandas.

She was one of the early arrivals lucky enough to snag an activity book, with which she demonstrated her speed reading, and stayed through the event.

Zookeeper Crystal Crimbchin and Vet Flavia Parotti explained that most of the orange, black and grey flamingo flock visitors see every day through the Zoo’s main gates are not entirely people friendly, but they stick around due to the bond they feel in numbers.

Keepers have started a program of feeding chicks with a syringe full of a nutrient paste and socializing them with the human touch in the hopes that their wilder companions will take after the tamer birds.

While it was Lion King Day, the Zoo doesn’t have any of the species panthera leo around.

They do take part in a conservation program for big felines however, with Menderu the Malayan Tiger.

With heat spiking in the afternoon, Menderu took a bath in front of visitors, a rare sight according to Parotti, and hammed it up drying on a rock and demonstrating his camouflage skills hiding his face in a tuft of bamboo.

The Zoo itself accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) for conservation efforts and is home to more than 200 individual animals.

Go online to www.charlespaddockzoo.org, for hours and information

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Photos by Camas Frank


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