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Zoo lion gets a makeover — Gift shop reopens Tuesday in new building

Posted: Monday, May 7th, 2012

Heather Young/Atascadero News • Mayor Pro Tem Tom O’Malley, right, takes a drink from the refurbished drinking fountain, now called “Leo,” in the Charles Paddock Zoo with the help of Assistant City Manager Jim Lewis, Gracie Lewis, 3, and Patrick Moreci, 3.

ATASCADERO — Though the new entrance to the Charles Paddock Zoo has been open for a while, the gift shop reopened this week.

During the same time that city officials cut the ribbon on the new gift shop, they unveiled the refurbished drinking fountain with members of the Atascadero Lions Club.

“The Atascadero Lions Club has been guardian of the lion drinking fountain at the Atascadero zoo for many decades now,” Atascadero Lions Club Director Bruce Knuckles said. “The Atascadero Lions had a meeting with Zoo Director Alan Baker and it was decided that the lion needed a vacation and a well-deserved rest for all its decades of work as the official greeter to all the thousands of children that visited the Atascadero zoo.”

The lion, now named “Leo,” was restored by Jeff Reninger of Reninger Construction. He got new paint, new plumbing and even got a new tooth.

The new gift shop sells items such as stuffed animals, figurines, T-shirts and other interactive items.

“Bring the kids, the grandkids, grandma and grandpa, visit our zoo and enjoy the gem of the Central Coast,” Mayor Bob Kelley said.

The zoo is open every day from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., except Thanksgiving and Christmas days.

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