By Maleesa Johnson
Trick or treating turns to the wild side as children and their parents are invited to attend Cameron Park Zoo’s annual Zoo Boo.
Zoo Boo is an event for children from two to 12 years of age. Zoo Boo takes place from 6 to 8 p.m. on Halloween night only.
Marketing manager Duane McGregor said she thinks the event may have started 20 years ago when the zoo opened, however she said that it has been taking place at least since the year after it opened.
McGregor said they typically have around 1,800- 2,000 people show up to Zoo Boo.
“It’s a lot of people to put through in two hours,” McGregor said.
The price of Zoo Boo is the same as the typical price of admission passes. Adult passes are $9, children ages 4 through 12 get in for $6 and children ages 3 and under get in free.
“Children come and visit the different areas of the zoo,” McGregor said. “Inside exhibits are decorated, some are scary and some are child-friendly. Then they get candy. We have an area for children to play games and get prizes and have their picture made.”
Baylor students from various organizations have volunteered at Zoo Boo over the years. This year, Beta Beta Beta will be volunteering at the event again.
Beta Beta Beta is a society for students dedicated to advancing the knowledge of biology and research.
Abilene senior Katherine Hooker, president of Beta Beta Beta, said the society has volunteered at the event for at least the past four years.
In the past, other Baylor organizations have been known to volunteer; however, McGregor said only Beta Beta Beta has signed up so far.
Before the event starts, volunteers can help decorate the exhibits around the zoo. In the past, the lizards, snakes and spider exhibits were decorated with a mummy theme and a zoo worker would pop out of a coffin. Volunteers are posted at certain exhibits to warn parents if the exhibit may be too scary for their child’s age group.
“In years past, what we have done is around when it starts, we would arrive and encourage our members to dress up,” Hooker said. “They encourage all of the volunteers to dress up and they’ll put us in different parts around the zoo that they have decorated.”
Volunteers also hand out candy. Cameron Park Zoo provides volunteers with a bucket of normal candy and a bucket of peanut free and common allergen-free candies for kids who may have food allergies.
“Everyone is in costume,” Hooker said. “There are actually a lot of parents that show up in costume too. That’s another thing that’s really fun too is we’ll call them by what their costume name is. So we’ll be like, ‘Thor, do you want some candy?’ and the little kids love it.”
In addition, volunteers help with face painting and the various games set up around the zoo.
“My favorite part is that it is a really fun and interactive way to serve the community,” Hooker said. “A lot of times, the service projects are on the sideline picking up trash or something, but with Zoo Boo you can meet people and you get to meet the kids. Everyone is dressed up and it’s a really fun time.”