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Erie Zoo holds annual senior day, drawing thousands

Senior health fair, free admission a highlight of the annual event.

Charles Burkett came to the Erie Zoo for the blood pressure screening, but stayed for the donkeys.

Burkett, 70, of Wattsburg, was one of about 3,000 people expected at the Zoo Wednesday for the annual Senior Day, with free admission through 2 p.m. for seniors 62 and older, and children 18 and younger. UPMC Health Plan and Northwest Bank sponsored the event. Vendors were set up throughout the zoo, providing useful information to seniors and their families.

“I’m getting my blood pressure and bone density tested,” said Burkett, while checking out Chelsea the donkey in her outdoor enclosure.

Burkett said he’s been to senior health fairs before, but never at the zoo. So naturally, Burkett brought his two-year-old great granddaughter, Ariel Downer, along.

“I wouldn’t have brought her if not for (the animals),” he said.

But many of the zoo’s visitors Wednesday were there for the critters. Charlotte Humes was one of them.

“She loves them all,” said Humes’ grandmother Rose Pencille, who made a trip to the zoo with Humes, her four-year-old granddaughter.

“We go to a lot of places together, said Pencille, 66, of Greene Township. “The beach, Waldameer. This is our first time (to the Zoo) this year.”

Giggling and clapping, Humes ran happily between all the exhibits Wednesday, but made a second trip to see the giraffe, Nigel.¬†She likes giraffes the best, “because they have long necks,” she said with a smile.

Christopher Millette can be reached at 870-1712 or by email. Follow him on Twitter at

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