Zoo hosts annual Halloween event

If you drop by the Toronto Zoo on Halloween, you might find a different kind of tigers and spiders.

But you won’t see any ghouls and ghosts.

Jennifer MacLean, a mother and frequent zoo visitor, believes Boo at the Zoo focuses on younger children by avoiding scary themes and characters.

ack, 5, the friendly vampire and Finn, 4, a lion, get ready for fun at the Toronto Metropolitan's Boo at the Zoo on Saturday.“We didn’t [dress in costumes] today,” MacLean said. “I don’t know if I’d want [my son] dressed up as Spiderman all day long, but for two and three year olds, I think it’s perfect.”

The Toronto Zoo began its annual Boo at the Zoo Halloween event for kids ages 12 and under last weekend. The two-weekend event consists of sing-a-longs, games and a magic show.

When preparing for this event that is themed around a scary holiday, the coordinators know that anything too scary might frighten younger children.

“We’re always very mindful that this is for kids,” said Katie Gray, the zoo’s Supervisor of Public Relations. “So that’s always a focus for us … making sure it’s not too scary, but fun, and we try to cater it for all ages.”

Alexandra, 8, and Stephanie, 6, hold up zoo artifacts on exhibit at Boo at the Zoo.While Boo at the Zoo has been taking place for at least 10 years, this time they’ve added a theme: medieval enchantment. Actors are dressed up as kings and queens and medieval music played in the background of some activities.

“In the past, we’ve had the witches and goblins and ghouls,” Gray said, “but this year we sort of changed it because we get a lot of people who come back year after year, and you don’t want to do the same event over and over [for them].”

Marc Chalmers, who has worked at the zoo for seven years, played the king of the enchanted forest and introduced most of the on-stage shows.

“We’ve had tons of people this year,” said Chalmers. “Every other year we’ve had Boo at the Zoo, it’s been a little bit chilly, we’ve had some rainy years, but the weather seems to be great and a lot of kids seem to be having a blast.”

To prepare for the cold weather, Boo at the Zoo was usually held around the zoo’s group events tent, but this year, the stingray touch tank is being housed there.

Boo at the Zoo will return for its final weekend on Oct. 25 and 26.

Siblings Mason, 5; Phoenix, 7; Jagger, 4, and Morrisan, 2, look scary in their Halloween costumes.