Families enjoy much-needed escape with LA Zoo reopening

Disguised to fit in, Matthew and Claudia Wintermute join 2,400 others in a warm welcome back from their old furry friends.

"Rawr," the couple said. "So fun to be back at the zoo!"

The Los Angeles Zoo reopened with safety signs reminding visitors to wear a mask, practice social distancing by staying a zebra or three flamingoes apart and sanitize.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: LA Zoo reopens to the public after months-long closure

Zoogoers got to meet the meerkats, born over the summer, and bachelor gorillas like Jabari, who has been here for decades, and HJ, who is new from up north.

"It's just like heaven, only there are a lot of animals," said visitor Daniel Maguire. "I might be on the ark... I'm just happy to be out and able to enjoy life... We're just going around looking at stuff like we're kids who came here 20 years ago, and here we are."

Tuesday's visit to the zoo served as a much-needed escape for all ages.

"It's really nice to be able to take them outdoors and show them things that we grew up with," says Patti Diaz, a visitor.

It's one thing for kids to learn about flamingoes in a book or online at home. It's another thing to come to the zoo and see them in-person in their natural habitat.

Emma Callero was spotted wearing flamingo pants at the zoo. 

"I like to see the flamingoes because their wings are awesome," the little girl explained.

Tim Jo also dressed for the big day out with his 8-month-old daughter connecting with wildlife for the first time.

"At this point, she's seen more animals than she's seen people," the 8-month-old's parents told FOX 11.

A special bond with the animals and each other.

"This is my happy place," said Claudia Wintermute. "I think all the animals get a lot of enrichment seeing people come back too."

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