Cute creatures drawing visitors to Fresno Chaffee Zoo

FRESNO, California

"Since the end of 2010, we've exceeded over 100,000 increase. So it's amazing," Adrienne Castro said. "This year we budgeted for a number and we're already exceeding that number."

To date, more than half a million people have visited the zoo to see the animals. New attractions like Sea Lion Cove are also driving people to the zoo. It opened in August.

"Since it opened we've had 90,000 come through the exhibit," Castro said. "It's amazing, it's beautiful. I always say it's not just an animal exhibit, where you're viewing an animal, but it's truly an experience. Between the audio and what you're seeing, the plants. You really do feel like you're at the central coast."

Also new to the zoo this year, the arrival of a new baby kangaroo known as a joey. The little one is still in its mom's pouch, but will soon be bouncing around in the kangaroo enclosure.

"Initially you just kind of see the feet or ears out of the pouch," Castro said. "Recently when the weather's nice, he'll come out."

Events like Zoo Lights is also attracting families as they enjoy the zoo and a night of holiday sightseeing. And if you're still looking for that perfect present.

"One of my favorite gifts to give young families is membership," Castro said. "They can anytime, everyday… adopt an animal is a great one if you have a child or anyone who had a favorite animal."

Officials say the zoo couldn't be where it is at today without the community's support.

Although 2012 was a great year, zoo officials are already looking forward next year. They'll open two new exhibits with the spotted neck otters and the king cobra exhibits in 2013.

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