Sea Lion Cove at Fresno's Chaffee Zoo boosts attendance

FRESNO, California

Catalina, Avila, Ariel and the rest of the gang at Sea Lion Cove want you to know they love their new $10.5 million home.

Families like the coastal feel, the prime viewing locations and the little ones love the children's beach. The three sea lions and two seals entertain all day in their 200-thousand gallon exhibit.

"What I like more is how they swim and the interacting," Cindy Mercado said. "I like the spots they have. Over there you can watch them, over here you can watch them close-up."

One viewing spot allows visitors to come nose to nose with sea lions like Pismo. Sea Lion Cove has quickly become Fresno's coolest spot.

"It's definitely upped attendance. We had the best Labor Day ever," Lyn Myers said. "We had a little over 18,000 people during those three days and that's a huge increase and it definitely helps during the week."

The zoo normally gets 85-hundred visitors over Labor Day. Daily attendance has jumped by 1500 people.

For these kids nothing's better than coming face to face with the sea lions at this underwater viewing section.

Visitors describe it as something they'd expect from a bigger park in a big city. It will be hard to top this exhibit, but the Chaffee Zoo is ready to put more Measure Z money to use for otters, king cobras and an expanded Africa exhibit.

Lyn Myers asked, "Do you remember when Fresno used to have lions and you would hear them roaring through the Tower District? They're coming back but they're not coming back singly we're bringing a pride."

These swimming stars will welcome the Africa exhibit in 2014.

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