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Countywide : Police Lead Children on Trip to the Zoo

Julio Gonzalez, 11, bounced on his toes and shouted to his friends when he glimpsed camels in cooling shade at the Los Angeles Zoo.

“Oh my gosh, they’re huge! Look at these camels!” he said.

Julio was one of about 60 children from Santa Ana and Costa Mesa who went to the zoo Thursday as part of a community outreach program sponsored in part by their local police departments.

About a dozen on-duty police officers and volunteers accompanied the elementary and intermediate school children through the maze of exhibits.

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The annual program is designed to offer low-income children a fun trip to places they might not otherwise get to go. It also offers them a chance to meet police officers in a friendly setting, said Lydia Casamina, a spokeswoman for the Santa Ana-based Civic Center Barrio Corp., which also co-sponsored the event.

Julio, whose trip to the zoo was his first, said he was impressed not only by the camels, polar bears and flamingos he saw but also by the kindness of police officers who helped pay forthe trip.

“They’re nice. I’m proud of them and appreciate it a lot,” he said.

Sylvia Guillen, a police service officer, said, “These kids are realizing that we’re not only out there arresting people, but we’re also their friends.”

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Still, she said the best part “is seeing their joyful faces. It makes me feel great that they’re so happy to be here.”


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