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Haunted Zoo takes from famous horror movies to scare visitors

By BY DIANNA WRAY
Oct. 23, 2010 at 5:23 a.m.

Teddy Ellis applies costume makeup to Kayla Eggeneye before the opening of the Texas Zoo's third Halloween haunted zoo on Friday.

IF YOU GOWHAT: The Haunted Zoo, "Twilight Zooclipse"

WHERE: The Texas Zoo, 110 Memorial Drive, Victoria

WHEN: 7 to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday

COST: $5 per person

The Texas Zoo was filled with moans, shrieks and howls as the last rays of sunset disappeared behind the trees on Friday evening.

A vampire prowled through the makeup counter, looking for more fake blood, while Medusa stuck a careful finger in her eye, adjusting an amber-colored snake-eye contact.

"OK, folks. The gates are closing. No one in costume outside of the gates from now on. Where are my vampires? OK, y'all come with me," Haunted Zoo coordinator Jay Gregston said, as he hustled a group of bloody teenagers to their posts.

For the past three years, volunteers have turned out in droves, eager to cover themselves in blood and guts and be part of the Haunted Zoo.

It's all for a good cause - this is the zoo's biggest fundraiser of the year.

But don't let that fool you. They get to scare people, and that's what it's all about.

"It can get pretty intense. Last year, we had a lady, a grown woman, who wet her pants she was so scared," Gregston said with a grin.

Gregston has been putting on the Haunted Zoo for three years now, raising money for the animals by scaring the wits out of children and adults alike.

Each year has a theme, and it takes a couple of months to plan everything out and set it up, Gregston said.

This year, "Twilight Zooclipse" uses different famous horror movies for inspiration, drawing on everything from "Nightmare on Elm Street" to "Sinbad and the Golden Fleece," Gregston said.

Gregston can plan all he wants, but once the doors swing open, the success of the Haunted Zoo is in the hands of his performers.

Volunteers who sign on are guaranteed to spend hours screaming, snarling, running and doing everything they can to make sure participants get their money's worth.

This year, more than 40 teenagers and adults got the chance to scare the pants off of those going through the Haunted Zoo.

On Friday evening, volunteers crouched in their assigned sections, waiting impatiently for the sky to get dark enough to begin.

"It's just a lot of fun. You get to be something you're not. You get to see people's expressions. It's fun. Especially the screams," said Kirsten Buzzell, 17, who was dressed as a mad Alice in Wonderland, complete with spatters of blood and crazy eyes. "Besides, I love animals."

Shelby Stellman, a red-eyed vampire spattered with blood, agreed.

"We get to dress up and get covered in blood and stuff," Shelby said.

The zoo expects to raise about $15,000 from the event, Gregston said.

The event continues on Halloween weekend.

It wouldn't be possible without the volunteers.

"I've got some good actors this year. There are going to be some really scary moments," Gregston said, laughing.

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