Ready, set, go — Easter egg hunt draws thousands to zoo

Montrease Lamback of Gwynn Oak stood on the sidelines and snapped photos as her 2-year-old son, Tyler, slipped plastic Easter eggs into his green felt basket.

The eggs secured, Tyler pulled them back out, tossed some on the ground, handed a few to other children and then stopped midhunt to admire what remained of his colorful collection.

The adventure for Tyler and hundreds of other children Saturday was part of the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore's annual Bunny Bonanzoo.

The celebration featured animal ambassadors, such as Flanders, a 17-pound Flemish giant rabbit, face-painting booths, an entertainment stage, games, food and crafts.

The event has been running for about 30 years, said zoo spokeswoman Jane Ballentine. Baltimore-based Mary Sue Candies donated about 15,000 pieces of candy for prizes.

The zoo's residents will also participate in Easter activities, Ballentine said. Paper bags stuffed with fruit are scattered for chimpanzees in their exhibit. Such activities are good mental exercises for the animals, she said.

The three-day event, which ends Sunday, could draw as many as 20,000 visitors, Ballentine said.

As Hairspray's "Good Morning, Baltimore" played over the loudspeakers, Charley Fowler, 5, visiting with her parents from Wall, N.J., counted five eggs stashed in her yellow bag, which would earn her a piece of candy from the zoo judges.

"The kids love it," Charley's mother, Gia Fowler, said.

Enasia Carter, 10, and brother, Brandon, 4, came with their grandparents, Adrienne and Cornell Carter of Park Heights, and she left with a basket of goodies.

"It gives you a whole bunch of energy to run around," Enasia said.

Cornell Carter said the event was a great way to spend time with family. He added that he admired the way the children made fast friends with one another.

Eight-year-old Ella Beard of Hampden rounded up somewhere between 10 and 20 eggs with the goal of cashing them for an early Easter haul.

"It was really fun," Ella said, chewing a piece of gum and shifting her hips from side to side. "My concern is, I got one piece of chocolate. Maybe that's because we kids get all crazy when we get chocolate."

The Bunny Bonanzoo continues from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday. The cost is $16.50, and $11.50 for children younger than 12. Children younger than 2 are admitted free.

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