Sea Lion Cove welcomes visitors at Chaffee Zoo

FRESNO, Calif.

The Fresno Chaffee Zoo's newest exhibit was unveiled to the pubic at 10 a/m. Monday morning.

The opening of Sea Lion Cove is a big deal for Fresno's youngest sea lion fans.

"The coolest thing is it looks so much like Monterey and it smells like it too," Madison Doidge of Fresno said.

"It kinds of looks like the same as the beach," Emi Doidge said.

Zoo workers say it took nearly a year to build the newest exhibit at Chaffee Zoo. More than 200 thousand gallons were used to fill up the underwater marvel and on Monday crowds gathered to cheer the grand opening.

Lead sea lion keeper Sara Romberger is thrilled her marine mammals, Pismo, Avila and Catalina have more room to swim.

"Even Pismo, our blind sea lion, it was really one of the highlights of my career here being able to take her out into the water," Romberger said.

Zoo keepers say it took $10.5 million to build the cove.

"It's actually designed after Point Lobos on the Central Coast, which is a favorite hang out spot for sea lions up and down the coast," Romberger said.

The Sea Lion Cove exhibit is the zoo's first major exhibit funded by the 2004 voter-approved Measure Z. Andrea Doidge says her children are thrilled to have this experience so close to home.

"They've been waiting and waiting for months and to see it actually come to fruition is really neat," Doidge said.

Other parents say they plan on using the exhibit as an educational tool.

"We homeschool our children so it's a great resource to supplement our science," Mary Sale of Fresno said.

But whether you're there to learn about science or just experience the wonder of these creatures, hanging out at the cove is unique peak into life under the sea.

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