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Zoo’s centennial celebration comes alive with costume parade

MEXICO CITY (AP) – Hundreds of people celebrated the 100th anniversary of Mexico City’s Chapultepec Zoo on Thursday with a costume parade that featured a marching band of lions and children dressed as birds or butterflies.

Other revellers dressed up as dancing parrots, acrobatic zebras and there were even drum-beating monkeys at the Chapultepec zoo, which was founded in 1923 in a city park of the same name.

The well-loved zoo draws about five million visitors per year. But it is not without its challenges.

Dentist Diana Godínez held up a sign reading: “The animals at the zoo need better habitats, and better treatment.”

Reflecting changes in zoo philosophy over the years, the zoo has changed from a simple repository of animals. Fernando Gual Sill said the zoo is now “a centre for wildlife conservation” that protects endangered species.

Mexico has a long and troubled history related to its fascination with exotic animals. Many lions and elephants were effectively abandoned after Mexico banned animal acts at circuses in 2015.

And drug lords and others routinely keep exotic animals like lions, tigers and zebras, sometimes in inappropriate enclosures from which some periodically escape.

ABOVE & BELOW: Actors dressed in lion costumes; and a visitor with face painting at a parade marking the 100th anniversary of the Chapultepec Zoo, in Mexico City. PHOTO: AP