Zoo keepers preparing animals for the California Classic

FRESNO, Calif.

The best portion of the race comes at mile seven -- the Chaffee Zoo is arguably the most exciting place for competitors.

Zoo keepers have been getting the animals ready for the big race for the past two weeks.

Action News asked, "When you signed up for this three years ago did you think this was part of the job description?"

Sal Flores replied, "This definitely wasn't in the job description but it's part of taking care of animals so we do what we have to make sure that they're ready for this race."

The Fresno Chaffee Zoo provides serious runners some shade from the hot sun on race day. But for the more casual competitor -- the exotic animals offer a nice break from the challenge of a 13 mile run. And the California Classic is also a walker-friendly course -- meaning lots of people will take their time and even stop to take pictures.

Event organizer, Mike Herman said, "We get a lot of e-mails after the event telling us that they didn't know the Fresno Chaffee Zoo was as beautiful as it is. They swear they're going to come back and revisit again."

On this day, most of the animals didn't seem to mind all the commotion. Others however did make a run for it.

The only real major change to this portion of the race at the zoo is the starting point. Wolf Gate, it'll be opened up with the relay runners on the other side. And just outside of the zoo a lot of the spectators can be as loud as they want without bothering those animals so that everybody can have a good time. And that small adjustment to the route should make a huge difference on Sunday.

"Before it was a big drastic change when they just came in through the gate and then all of a sudden there's a bunch of people," Sal Flores said. "This time they'll warm up to the sounds of them coming towards them."

Copyright © 2021 KFSN-TV. All Rights Reserved.