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VALLEY ROUNDUP | Santa Clarita

Exotic Animals Lure 10,000 to Hart Park

May 22, 2000|EDGAR SANDOVAL

Sharing a day with snakes, scorpions and alligators under a burning sun sounded like a fun idea to 9-year-old Karlen English.

"I like snakes; some don't bite," Karlen said. "They don't look scary at all."

About 10,000 others who made their way to the eighth Hart Park Animal Fair at the William S. Hart County Park on Sunday seemed to agree. Parents and children admired lions, elephants, snakes, wild monkeys, ponies and other animals at the 265-acre park.

Some of the children played games, while others rode ponies, ate food and candies and listened to music by the Certified Blues in an event sponsored by the Los Angeles County Department of Parks and Recreation.

"It's the first time I've been here, and it looks like lots of fun," said Pam Cohen, 13, a member of the Santa Clarita Girl Scouts. "It's unbelievable, to see all the animals."

Admission was free, but some rides charged a dollar or two, said park superintendent Norman Phillips. Park management uses the profits to care for the animals who live there, he said.

The event was not held last year because of construction at the park, but Sunday's swarm of visitors made up for the year they missed, getting a rare close glimpse of animals they usually see in movies, he said.

"A lot of the movie studios come here when they need an animal for a project," Phillips said. "Some of the people from nearby ranches brought their own animals for everybody to see."

Karlen said this is the only day he gets to admire a variety of snakes. He has 12 dogs at home and would like to have a more exotic pet, he said.

"I had a snake, but it would not eat and died," he said.

Karlen's father, Bob English of Santa Clarita, did not get a chance to view the animals up close. He was busy supervising about 10 area Girl Scouts who were painting animals on the children's faces.

"It's all about the animals today," English said.

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