WASHINGTON (WJZ) — The National Zoo in Washington is back open, and fans couldn’t be happier. The government shutdown forced the zoo to close its doors.

But now, Kai Jackson reports, animal lovers couldn’t be more excited.

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“We have missed you so much!” said Dennis Kelly, National Zoo Director.

And patrons of the National Zoo in Washington D.C. have missed visiting.

The government shutdown closed the popular tourist spot for 17 days. But now they’ve reopened for business.

“It’s a very difficult thing to see happen, to see anything that you love being a part of to be shut down. But we’re definitely happy that it’s open and we’re happy that it’s been resolved somewhat,” a zoo visitor said.

Visitors were going wild not having the opportunity to see the wide variety of animals at the zoo. The staff says that sadness worked both ways.

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“I’m sure they felt the quiet. There was nobody here during the daytime. I mean, we had wolves howling during the daytime. They normally save that for the nighttime,” said Don Moore, Associate Director of Animal Care.

“He was begging for the zoo while it was closed. And I’m happy to be off today so I can take him to the zoo and make that wish come true,” said Yianna Tousmia, parent.

“The animals have missed you. The people have missed you. We need you back,” Kelly said.

The closing of the zoo was about more than sightseeing. The zoo says it relies on patrons to purchase merchandise. The absence of that for two and a half weeks has hurt the zoo financially.

“So it’s been hard for us. It’s been a financial drain for us, but we’re back in business,” Kelly said.

When they’re open and operating normally, 25,000 people visit the National Zoo each day.

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