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DES MOINES, Iowa — Blank Park Zoo kicked off Santa at the Zoo on Saturday. The event allows kids and families to meet Santa Claus, tour the zoo, create holiday cards and write letters to Santa. According to Blank Park Zoo, Santa will write back.

Blank Park Zoo says masks are optional at the event, and representatives are happy to welcome visitors.

“Just seeing the faces of the children and all the smiles, being able to go out and do things are so important, and a lot of people don’t know that the zoo is a registered nonprofit,” said Andrea Stacy, Blank Park Zoo’s public events manager. “So just your admission dollars makes a huge difference for us and all the work we do saving animals in the wild as well. So really, it supports us by just coming out and doing stuff like this.”

Santa at the Zoo will run from Dec. 11 through Dec. 18 from 10 p.m. to 2 p.m. The event is free with regular admission and free for members.