Visitors to the zoo can experience a revamped Stingray Bay -- one of the more popular exhibits that gives kids a real 'hands-on' experience. "It's really amazing, except when they sting you, it hurts," said Rosalie Erland of Lemoore.
The Bay recently reopened with new signs highlighting the importance of protecting these sea creatures. "I think it's critical that we provide the information for folks to make decisions on how we impact our environment. Once they read it, whatever choice they make is totally up to them," said Adrienne Castro, education director at the Chaffee Zoo.
But the exhibit is not complete. By the end of the month, officials hope to house Horseshoe Crabs inside a boat tank. "They're more closely related to spiders than they are to crabs. If you look under here, that's more of a spider-looking," said Castro.
"We talk about a lot of these animals in class and it's nice for them to actually see the animals at the zoo in their habitat," said Porterville kindergarten teacher, Brianna Burgdorf. And the most anticipated exhibit is the Sea Lion Cove. It is still under construction but will open this Fall.
Many of these new projects are being made possible with funds from Measure Z, a voter-approved initiative passed in 2004. "I think it's critical that we continue to be a progressive zoo, continue to improve our current exhibits, maintain a great home for our animals. A greater guest experience, something different when we can," said Castro.
The projects will more than double the size of the zoo in the coming years -- an expansion officials hope will attract more visitors.
The Chaffee Zoo will soon be extending its hours for the summer time. Starting April 1, the zoo will open from 9 am to 6 pm seven days a week.