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Zoo to charge admission fee to tots

By: Roger Phelps, The Telegraph
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Children between 2 and 4 years old will not get into the Folsom City Zoo Sanctuary for free after Jan. 1. Aligning admission fees for the zoo with the city’s swim-center park, city council members on Dec. 9 halted a free-admission policy for children 2 to 4 years old at the Folsom City Zoo Sanctuary in Folsom City Lions Park. Tots will be charged $3 beginning New Year’s Day 2009. Resident Terry Harper was at the zoo recently with granddaughter Katie, 3. Katie got in free. “I like the monkeys,” she said. Harper said it’s important for civilized communities to provide a range of free services. “We’re becoming regulars,” Harper said. “It won’t change us, but what you really want is for people to come who cannot afford to pay. Some things should be free. Some things we need to pay taxes for, for the good of society.” Folsom resident Maria Vegh, with two tots in tow, said, “People with more kids won’t like it. They would like it to be free. It will take away from kids coming more often.” Folsom gatekeeper Tina Makaris said a sizable percentage of the 8,000 or so annual Folsom zoo visitors are tots. Founded in 1963, the zoo operated free of admission for its first 26 years. Fees installed in 1989 gradually rose. When a bear exhibit opened in 1989, general admission went to $3 and children 5 to 12 years were charged $2. Since 2006, rates have been $4 general, with seniors and children 5 to 12 charged $3. Zoo supervisor Jill Lute said a popular choice among zoo diehards with large families is a yearly membership, for $60, that admits two adults, all children and grandchildren and throws in four guest passes. Resident Shikha Udupa, trailing two tots, said her family visited infrequently enough that the new tot charge wouldn’t matter much. City officials surveyed price schedules at five other Northern California zoos. Folsom, even with the price hike, still compares favorably, city documents show. “We’ll become more uniform with other areas,” said Lute. Lodi’s Micke Grove Zoo charges less at the gate, but also charges for parking, unlike the Folsom City Zoo Sanctuary. At Sacramento Zoo, parking is free, but tots and children are charged $6. The Telegraph’s Roger Phelps can be reached at rogerp@goldcountry-media.com or post a comment at folsomtelegraph.com.