K.C. and Christopher Merritt were wide-eyed at the strength and length of the Burmese python.

Ashley Baucom, 7, and Brooke Miller, 3, were intrigued with "Farah," the descented skunk.Aaron Van Wagoner, 9, and his brother Josh, 8, came dressed as apes and their sister, Sarie, 11, as a witch.

And Doug Benton, 9, was the grim reaper.

It was "Boo at the Zoo" Saturday at Hogle Zoo, with dozens of children and their parents enjoying a pre-Halloween treat and leaving exhibits with a better understanding of the so-called Halloween animals - spiders, snakes, owls, wolves and black cats.

"We kind of thought we would run into an ape. The boys thought they would fit in if they came as apes," smiled Tracie Wagoner, Josh and Aaron's mother. To the delight of the family, an ape - Raymond Brown, a zoo docent from Magna - was scampering around the entrance, handing out free trick-or-treat bags.

Inside the zoo, Diane Rosser, a volunteer dressed as Little Miss Muffet, was talking with children about tarantulas and other spiders in the zoo's Discovery Land.

Jenny Mansfield, 8; Vivien Wade, 7; Suzanne Wood, 8; Ariel Wade, 3; Riley Vuksinick, 7; and Ashley Baucom and Mary Jane Gygi, both 7, were fully taking in Rosser's presentation.

Across the room, zoo employee Andrea Horsley, 16, was dressed as a witch and serving "witches' brew" (hot apple cider) to the young visitors and their parents.

Jan Blanton, who held a great-horned owl on her arm, and Bonnie Parker, a volunteer from Alpine, Utah County, who displayed and talked about a Burmese python, were among others who captured the attention of visitors during the three-hour educational party.