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“Look! It’s a unicorn!” Justin Ochoa, 10, decked out in a Super Mario Brothers Luigi costume, called triumphantly to his parents during a scavenger hunt at the Oakland Zoo on Saturday.
Dubbed “Boo at the Zoo,” the wildlife park’s annual Halloween event was adapted this year for social distancing, but the Tracy resident and his fellow visitors seemed to enjoy it just as much.
To allow for social distancing, the number of visitors has been limited and the event will extend over eight days. Masks and six feet of distance are mandatory.
“We feel lucky that we get to do something like this,” said Courtney Pecora of Marin, whose son Theo, 22 months, was looking fierce in his fire-engine-red fire truck costume. “Especially for him to get to celebrate Halloween.”
Lisa Highiet of Livermore said, “We are not trick-or-treating this year. This is a great option and a safe option.”
Upon arrival, patrons get a program for the scavenger hunt. The objective is to find the flamingos — plastic birds decked out in costumes, including the unicorn costume spied by Justin, secreted in nooks and crannies all over the zoo.
Zoo workers seemed to have found ways to make the option not only safe, but fun. As visitors approached the zoo’s gondola ride Saturday, a bush in a terra-cotta pot came to life and offered them hand sanitizer.
Myron Kellogg, a zoo employee, came up with the idea for his uncannily realistic bush costume and the zoo allowed him to grow into the role.
From mermaids to dinosaurs to witches, ghosts and goblins, seemingly every type of costume was on display, as were the zoo’s usual exhibits, including perennial favorites the giraffes and baboons.
Paradoxically, the warthogs — arguably some of the ugliest creatures on earth — seemed quite popular Saturday.
“I found him! I found him!” Ava Chang, 6, exclaimed, pointing to her program and then the warthog as her mother, Shannon Li, looked on. While the warthogs weren’t exactly part of the scavenger hunt, the Dublin resident’s enthusiasm was contagious.
For those wishing to take part in the Boo at the Zoo event, tickets for Halloween weekend are sold out but some are still available for other days this week. Visit the zoo’s website for more information.