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Animal lovers' calendar: Weekend of Oct. 24-25 and beyond

October 23, 2009 | 10:03 pm

Halloween hippo

Whether you want to celebrate Halloween with the animals or simply help some local pets in need, the coming days and weeks are chock-full of events sure to appeal to Southern California animal lovers. (Are we forgetting something? Let us know by leaving a comment!)

This Weekend:

Friday, Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 23-25, the Santa Barbara Zoo hosts its Wild West-themed Boo at the Zoo event, an opportunity for kids to go trick-or-treating in an animal-centric (and traffic-free) environment.  Each night of the event, the zoo will be closed for general admission and open for the Halloween-themed event from 5:30 p.m. until 8:30 p.m.  Zookeepers will be on hand to give talks and allow visitors to interact with animals.  Tickets are available at the zoo's box office and are $11 for adults and $9 for children aged 2-12.  (Children must be accompanied by an adult.)  More information available at SantaBarbaraZoo.org.

Saturday, Oct. 24, celebrate the all-American pit bull (or your lovable pit mix) on National Pit Bull Awareness Day.  The event was founded in 2007 by a Tennessee-based pit bull rescue group called Bless the Bullys, and since then, according to the Best Friends Animal Society, "the concept has taken off like wildfire."  This year, pit-centric organization ROVERlution hosts a march on the much-maligned dogs' behalf right here in Southern California -- in the Orange County city of Brea to be exact -- beginning at 9 a.m.  More information on the Brea march at ROVERlution.org; to find another National Pit Bull Awareness Day event, try the state-by-state search tool at NationalPitBullAwarenessDay.com.

Saturday, Oct. 24, spcaLA hosts a low-cost vaccination and microchip clinic from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at its South Bay Pet Adoption Center, 12910 Yukon Ave., Hawthorne. The clinic will offer rabies vaccinations for cats and dogs ($5); DHPP vaccinations for dogs ($15); bordetella vaccinations for dogs ($10); FVRCP and leukemia vaccinations for cats ($15 each); and microchipping for cats and dogs ($25).  More information at spcaLA.com.

Sunday, Oct. 25, support Ventura County's Canine Adoption and Rescue League (C.A.R.L.) while eating your dinner.  C.A.R.L. hosts a fundraising event at the Rubio's Fresh Mexican Grill located at 1788 S. Victoria Avenue in Ventura from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.  When diners present a printable flier available on C.A.R.L.'s website, this Rubio's location will donate 20% of the cost of their meals to the rescue group.  (Thanks to reader Bill Solis for the heads-up!)

Saturday-Sunday, Oct. 24-25 and Saturday-Sunday, Oct. 31-Nov. 1, the Los Angeles Zoo holds its own Boo at the Zoo event (hey, it's a popular name).  Zoo visitors can get an up-close look at animals like insects, spiders and snakes at the Creepy Creature Encounter; learn about owls and watch a vulture feeding; and watch animals like hippos, tigers, gorillas and black bears eat (or stomp on, as the case may be) pumpkins, among other animal-related activities.  More information and a schedule of events at LAZoo.org.

Saturday-Sunday, Oct. 24-25 and Saturday-Sunday, Oct. 31-Nov. 1, the San Diego Zoo's Wild Animal Park hosts its Halloween-themed Pumpkins at the Park event.  Pumpkins at the Park features animal-themed activities including a "conservation cakewalk" and animal encounters billed as "spooky" (our guess: bats) as well as more typical Halloween fare like a costume contest and trick-or-treat scavenger hunt.  Also on hand: A sure-to-be-sad Extinct Animal Graveyard and Halloween-themed enrichment activities for the park's animal residents, including gorillas, lions, elephants and vultures.  More information at SanDiegoZoo.org.

Upcoming:

Saturday, Oct. 31, celebrate Halloween with the needy pets awaiting new homes at the South Los Angeles animal shelter, 3612 11th Avenue, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.  A Halloween parade begins at noon and will include adoptable, costumed pets from the South L.A. shelter.  Those fine folks who adopt a pet will receive a bonus -- a special picture of them with their new furry friend (not to mention free candy!).  Visitors can enter a raffle to win Clippers tickets -- and just might get a chance to meet one of L.A.'s biggest celebrities, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. 

Saturday, Oct. 31, join Much Love Animal Rescue for its 6th annual Bow Wow Ween fundraising event from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Topanga Community Club, 1440 N. Topanga Canyon Blvd.  The main event at Bow Wow Ween is the always-enjoyable canine costume contest, at which a panel of celebrity judges will award prizes (worth more than $3,000 in total) to the winners.  The event also features vendors, games, kids' activities and adoptable pets from a dozen local rescue groups.  Tickets are $10 and can be purchased at the door; children under 10 enter free.  Entry to the costume contest is $25 per dog.  More information at MuchLove.org.

Saturday, Oct. 31, the Simi Sunset Rotary presents its first-ever Howl-o-Ween Pooch Parade and Pet Expo at Simi Valley's Rancho Tapo Community Park, 3700 Avenida Simi, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.  Registration, check-in and dog-costume judging (in categories including best costume, dog-owner lookalike and most humorous) begin at 11 a.m.  Costume parade begins at noon at the park's pavilion.  The event also features adoptable pets, disc dog and dancing dog demonstrations and giveaways.  Parade entrance fee is $15 for the first dog and $10 for each additional dog within the same family (spectators enter free).  More information at HowloweenPoochParade.com.

Saturday, Oct. 31, Long Beach organization Haute Dogs hosts its annual Howl'oween Parade, billed as the world's largest Halloween-themed event for dogs.  The parade begins at Long Beach's Livingston Park, 4900 E. Livingston Drive.  Beginning at 2:30 p.m., participants will make a six-block trek around Long Beach, ending up back at Livingston Park.  The parade is expected to last about an hour and include an estimated 600 dressed-up dogs.  Prizes will be awarded in 13 costume categories, and the event also features a kids' costume contest, adoptable pets, animal-themed vendors and a bulldog kissing booth.  To participate in the parade, register online ($15 per dog) or on the day of the event ($25 per dog).  "Very Important Pooch" entry, which allows your costumed dog to walk at the front of the parade, is also available -- online only -- for $35.  Proceeds benefit local animal-related causes (last year's event raised over $10,000 for a spay/neuter program).  To register or for more information and directions, visit HauteDogs.org.

Saturday, Oct. 31, bring your costumed, well-behaved and leashed dog to participate in the second annual Downtown Dog Parade in the city of Burbank.  The parade begins at 6 p.m. on the AMC Walkway at San Fernando Boulevard and Palm Avenue. Owners are asked to register for the parade by no later than 5:30 p.m. on the day of the event; participation is free.  More information at DowntownBurbank.org.

Saturday, Nov. 7, spcaLA invites potential "foster parents" to learn about its fostering program from 10 a.m. to noon at its South Bay Pet Adoption Center, 12910 Yukon Ave., Hawthorne. "Foster parents" are needed to care for puppies and kittens that are too young to be adopted, as well as older dogs and cats with special needs. More information at spcaLA.com. (The L.A. Department of Animal Services offers a similar program for underage puppies and kittens; more information on that program is available at the department's website.)

Coming up in November and December, Villalobos Rescue Center offers a free eight-week training course for L.A. pit bulls and pit mixes at the Los Angeles Department of Animal Services' North Central shelter.  (Exact dates of the course to be determined.) The course covers basic commands like sit and stay and progresses to more advanced tricks and an introduction to agility training.  More information at Villalobos' website.

Ongoing:

Through Nov. 8, learn the truth about spiders at the Los Angeles County Natural History Museum's Spider Pavilion.  Visitors can enter a walk-through exhibit filled with nearly 100 arachnids of various species -- and it's just in time for Halloween!  Tickets are sold in half-hour intervals throughout the day and cost $3 for adults, $2 for students and seniors, and $1 for children; museum members enter free.  More information and directions available at NHM.org.

Through Nov. 28, UC Riverside presents "Intelligent Design: Interspecies Art" at its Sweeney Art Gallery, which features works from 20 artists (most from California) that explore the lives and aesthetics of animals in unique ways.  One featured artist, Sam Easterson, shows video gathered when he attached minicams to creatures including armadillos, falcons, scorpions and sheep.  Another, Nina Katchadourian, explores our ideas of what constitutes a good-looking animal in "Continuum of Cute," for which she chose 100 images of animals which she ranked from uncute to very, very cute.  (Not for the faint of heart: Another artist, Carlee Fernandez, reworked taxidermied animals into shall-we-say-unorthodox pieces of luggage.)  "In the past, art dealing with animals usually addressed issues of representation," gallery director Tyler Stallings told The Times of the exhibition. "I wanted to expand beyond that."  More information at the Sweeney Art Gallery's website.

-- Lindsay Barnett

Photo: A hippopotamus at the L.A. Zoo feasts on a pumpkin during a Halloween event in 2001.  Credit: Los Angeles Times

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