California Tales

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Two Different Live Shows


“California Tales: Coyote and the Laughing Butterflies”

Eight-foot-tall grizzly bear Tiny and his animal puppet friends are back for a new show based on a Native American myth from the Tewa Nation, one of the Pueblo peoples of the Southwest deserts.

In “California Tales: Coyote and the Laughing Butterflies,” Raven and Turtle get hilarious revenge on trickster Coyote by using butterflies, a salt lick, and…find out the rest at the show! This ancient story, enjoyed for generations, still delights the children of today. The trickster himself reveals the real animal behaviors that inspired this enchanting tale.

 Children and other audience members are encouraged to participate in the show, and to meet the animal characters after the show.

All the animal characters in the California Tales show were created by the Chiodo Brothers, the same special effects wizards who made the Zoo’s popular dinosaurs Duncan the T.rex, Lily the Parasaurolophus, and Tulip, a baby Triceratops.

Performances weekends at noon and 3 p.m.
Princess Weekend (March 10 & 11) showtimes: 11:30 a.m. and 3 p.m.

Take photos with Tiny, Duncan, and other cast members immediately following the shows! Performances held at the outdoor Rolling Hill Stage and are free with Zoo admission. Audience seating is on a grassy hillside; no reserved seating.

Performances are subject to change; check the daily schedule at Admissions for updates. Shows are canceled in the event of rain.

“Dino Doc” Returns

Does Lily have a cold? The nine-foot-tall duckbill has been sneezing a lot! 

The Zoo’s three high-tech dinosaurs star in live stage show “Dino Doc” this summer, with some help from kids from the audience. These volunteer “doctors” listen to the sick dinosaur’s heartbeat and conduct other tests, just like the real Zoo veterinarian.

A hit when it debuted in 2013, the show has been revamped with new fun facts and even more fun antics by Lily, Duncan the T. rex, and baby Triceratops Tulip.

Tiny the Grizzly Bear: His Story

Tiny became interested in folktales while a cub at Yellowstone National Park, where his parents and many wild brothers, sisters, cousins, aunts and uncles, still live. Tiny studied at the University of Alaska at Bearrow and is now an ethno-folklore-abear. He has wandered down from Alaska to share his folktales with kids at the Santa Barbara Zoo.   

The native peoples of Yellowstone, a band of Shoshone known as Snake Indians, told Tiny his first myth. A grizzly bear named Wakinu was caught stealing food and banished (cast out) from his homeland. Blinded by his tears of remorse and sorrow, he fell into a snowdrift. The white snow and ice became stuck to his dark fur. When he came to a place of darkness, according to the Shoshone, he saw a trail leading into the sky. He ran towards it, shaking the snow out of his coat as he leapt upwards. That night, for the first time, when the animals and people looked into the sky, they saw the bright snow trail that Wakinu left behind. Today, people call it the Milky Way.

FAQs About the Shows

Every child is different. It is impossible to predict an individual child’s reaction to large, realistic-looking animal characters. If you think your child might be fearful, consider sitting further back from the stage.

Performances weekends only:

Noon and 3 p.m.

Show times may change, so check the schedule when you arrive at the Zoo. Please be aware that our stage shows are canceled when it rains.

Absolutely take photos or videos during the show! There is also a five-minute period at the end of each show for photos of the animals with your children.

The Zoo has “ambassador” animals that come out to meet the public. We’ve had such shows in the past and there may be a show in the future featuring one or more of those animals. But for now, Tiny, Duncan, and their friends are the stars of the shows.

Sorry! They are off exhibit except during shows.

In addition to the show, Tiny and his friends make limited appearances at the Zoo for parties and events. Contact Guest Services for availability.

Sorry! Tiny and his friends have to stay at the Zoo and can’t be rented by outside groups or individuals.

FAQs for Younger Guests

Tiny and his friends love kids, but not to eat – they love to tell them stories about animals.

Like most of the predator animals at the Zoo, Tiny and his friends are kept in their own spaces, separate from the other animals.

They have a special area near the stage where they stay when they aren’t in the show. It isn’t open to the public and they aren’t visible.

Salmon is a favorite food of wild grizzly bears, but they sometimes eat hoofed animals like moose, elk, and deer. But they also like plants, fruits, berries, grasses, and even bugs (called grubs)!

Grizzly bears are “omnivores” which means they eat a lot of different things.

As much as we like them, we don’t have room here at our Zoo. But you can see two at the San Francisco Zoo, and there are a pair at the Chaffee Zoo in Fresno. No grizzly bears live in the wild in California – but they used to. Grizzlies do live in Alaska, western Canada, Montana, Wyoming, and Idaho.