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Hovatter's Wildlife Zoo Welcomes Community for Grand Reopening

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PRESTON COUNTY - They say that spring is the season of rebirth and new beginnings, and that's certainly the case at Hovatter's Wildlife Zoo, as it welcomes new additions and the public back through its gates.

"Over the winter months, we've gotten new animals, we've redone our gift shop, the outside and inside....everything's just ready to go," said owner Bryan Hovatter.

Everything went off without a hitch on Saturday for the zoo's grand reopening, as hundreds of people came out to meet Hovatter's newest additions. 

"We brought back some Watusi, you know, great big longhorn cows, something you'll never see in this part of the country," said Bryan Hovatter.

Plenty of people also got a glimpse of those "new additions" on the way: a pregnant giraffe.

"The female is due in about three months. When she flops her tail up, that'll be swelled up like a pancake, it'll be huge. And that's how you tell if she's gonna have her baby in like a week or not," said Colton Hovatter, Bryan's son.

Other babies and children were out in full force to kick off the Easter weekend with an egg hunt.

"We started at 10 o'clock, we put 300-some eggs out with all different prizes in them," said Bryan.

Children got up close and personal with their favorites.

"I love feeding the giraffes. The turkeys kind of scared me. The monkeys are pretty cute. I love the zoo," said Madison Vandergrift of Fairmont.

Hovatter said it's events like these that prove how much of an impact the zoo can make on the community. He's grateful for being able to continue to operate after a scare from the state capital earlier this year.

"This new bill was just trying to stop one individual from having a lion or tiger in his backyard, which I can understand that part of it. But we were exempt from it, thank God," said Hovatter.

The zoo will continue its celebration on Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.