AKRON, Ohio - If you plan on visiting the Akron Zoo this summer, you may be in for quite a surprise.
The zoo has created a Fun Squad, a group of zoo employees who go out on grounds and randomly select visitors for prizes, like free behind-the-scenes tours.
The Fun Squad is made up of 16 employees from various departments within the zoo. They wear tie-dyed shirts and have a pre-selected prize, randomly picking an unsuspecting family to enjoy it.
Once the visitors have been chosen, they "Zooprise" them present them with a camera, buttons and their Zooprise package.
The zoo piloted the program last year in the summer. It was so well received it is now done year-round, at least twice a week in the summer months.
"We are always looking for fun and creative ways to engage and thank our visitors," said Guest Services manager Beth Kreiner in a news release. "People really appreciate the program and are usually astounded that they have just been given something really cool, like a chance to make the Komodo dragon diet for the day, for free. They usually are in a little bit of shock."
Some other possible Zooprise prizes are free rides on the carousel or train for the day, an up-close animal encounter, a chance to feed the zoo's penguins and more.