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Nocturnal Zoo Mission

A twitch, a scratch, maybe a yawn--that's the extent of the activity you're likely to see at the zoo from those among God's creatures that don't keep bankers' hours. For adults, that's just the way things are, but for kids from grades four to eight, there is an alternative during this month, as Wildlife World Zoo offers its Sunset Safari program again this year.

The sleepover class is designed to teach kids about the habits of the nocturnal animals that aren't usually abroad during the zoo's regular hours. Participants play games, paint tee shirts, and take a late-night hike through the zoo grounds before sacking out in the Small Mammal Building, residence of WWZ's impressive, lively collection of bats, flying squirrels, fennec foxes, marmosets, meerkats, mongooses (or is it mongeese?), lemurs and other diminutive critters.

The program, which costs $35, includes a late dinner, breakfast the next day, and all supplies other than a sleeping bag and a pillow. The first sleepover is held on Saturday, June 6; subsequent programs are held on each successive Saturday in June, and private sleepovers for groups can also be booked.

This creative program is typical of WWZ, which despite a manifestly modest operating budget continues to be one of the more offbeat, interesting and seemingly well-kept menageries in the area. Its other attractions include the installations Primate Panorama and Condor Corner; the Waters of the World aquarium; Tropics of the World, a reptile-and-amphibian habitat; a walk-through aviary housing 30 species of exotic birds; and white tigers Sir Lunge-a-Lot and Mrs. Lunge-a-Lot.

There are beguilingly soulful "singing dogs" from New Guinea; a petting zoo; and, perhaps most marvelously, a raised feeding station at the giraffe paddock that ingeniously allows you to proffer your gifts at giraffe-eye-level. You can't say you've truly experienced these magnificent beasts until you've felt the blast from their nostrils, or their slimy purple tongues as they take the food from your hands.

--M. V. Moorhead

Wildlife World Zoo's regular hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, including holidays. Admission is $7.95, $4.95 for kids ages 3 to 12, free for those younger. 165th Avenue and Northern in Litchfield Park. 935-9453.


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