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Thursday, February 21 , 2019, 7:00 pm | Partly Cloudy 50º


Santa Barbara Zoo Debuts ‘Tiny,’ Other Stars of New Live Show ‘California Tales’

zoo Tiny
Real California condors photo-bomb the festivities at the Santa Barbara Zoo with, from left, zoo board chair Thomas Caleel, Association of Zoos and Aquariums Executive Director Kris Vehrs, “Tiny,” “Tortoise” and “Condor.” (Santa Barbara Zoo photo)

Tiny, an 8-foot-tall high-tech grizzly bear, and other stars of the Santa Barbara Zoo’s new live stage show “California Tales” made their debut Wednesday at an event to celebrate the zoo’s reaccreditation by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.

“Tiny” and Thomas Caleel, the zoo’s board chair, were presented with an award recognizing their AZA accreditation for another five years by Kris Vehrs, AZA executive director, in front of an audience of young Zoo Campers ranging in age from 7 to 10.

“This recognizes the Santa Barbara Zoo’s commitment to the highest quality of animal care, facilities for both animals and people, and public programs, like Zoo Camp,” Vehrs said. “I’m proud to present this in front of a group of such engaged and enthusiastic Zoo Campers!”

The Zoo Campers met Tiny, along with his co-star puppets depicting a tortoise and a California condor. In “California Tales,” Tiny tells animal folktales from California and the world, aided by his puppet co-stars, which also include a coyote and a raven.

The high-tech puppets were created by Chiodo Brothers, the same Hollywood special effects house that designed and built the zoo’s popular dinosaurs, Duncan the T. Rex, Lily the duckbill, and Tulip, a baby triceratops.

“California Tales” opens this Sunday, Father’s Day, with daily shows at noon and 3 p.m. at the Rolling Hills Stage.

Duncan and the zoo’s dinosaurs will return with a new show in mid-July, which will alternate with “California Tales.” Both shows are free with zoo admission. Click here for more information.

The AZA requires zoos and aquariums to successfully complete a rigorous accreditation process every five years. Less than 10 percent of approximately 2,800 wildlife exhibitors who are licensed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture achieve accreditation by the Association. The Santa Barbara Zoo first received AZA accreditation in 1982 and was the 51st zoo or aquarium to do so.

— Julia McHugh is the public relations director for the Santa Barbara Zoo.


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