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Drive-thru zoo brings joy to those stuck in the house

Posted at 6:48 PM, May 02, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-02 18:48:48-04

LOCKPORT, N.Y. (WKBW) — There was a long line, but it was worth the wait. Niagara Down Under brought Niagara County a social distancing drive-through zoo.

“I never expected this to be like this. I'd say we put at least a thousand cars through,” said Laura Kagels with Niagara Down Under.

7-year-old Alaya Gayle was happy to get out of the house.

“I would have just watched TV and played on my phone and played with my cats,” said Gayle.

Instead, she got to drive around and look at goats, wallabies, pigs and more.

“I love it because I never saw kangaroos up so close and peacocks,” Gayle said.

This was a way for Niagara Down Under to raise money to care for the animals. They planned to open to the public this spring, but COVID-19 has caused a delay.

“In all honesty, this has really put a damper on our business with the animals. We've lost completely all our income. Our expenses are still the same. We wanted to go ahead and offer an event that's free… but there are a lot of people donating and that helps with the care of the animals,” Kagels said.

Kagels said over 1,000 cars came through. At one point, the wait was about three hours.

There was even a special guest appearance by Olaf the snow owl.

“I've never met him before. Today's my first day. He actually came with a snow owl for everybody to see. We're super happy to have them,” said Kagels.

Bob Humbert and Olaf the snow owl came from the wildlife rescue Wolcotville Wildlife. They needed to get out of the house, so this was the perfect opportunity.

“It's amazing. Everybody's chombing at the bit we all want to get out. This is the result of that you know,” said Humbert.

It's a way to bring joy to everyone while social distancing and getting out of the house.