ROANOKE, Va. -

As the sun rises on Mill Mountain Zoo, so too does the excitement.

Zoo Director Ray Correia will be the first to admit the zoo was enduring "dark times" when he took over in 2010.

But Correia and President of the Zoo's Board of Directors Chriss Davies Ross say things are looking up.  Chriss Davies Ross took over the helm in January.  Alongside Correia and the Board of Directors, Ross says she's trying to breath new life and pump new blood into the Zoo.

The formula for success is simple, but difficult.  Nearly 40% of the zoo's money must be raised in the community.  New and improved relationships with corporate and community partners has fueled optimism at the zoo on the hill.

With the weather warming up, there's also a bevy of fundraisers meant to get people to the zoo and raise money. 

On May 3, there's a gala at Rockledge, the home on Mill Mountain in celebration of the Kentucky Derby.  The next week, on May 10, the zoo is hoping to get people out to Explore Park for a 5K, one of the first big efforts by Chriss Davies Ross as president.

Aside from that, there are plenty of other new educational opportunities for families meant to get people in the door.

To see all that's going on at the zoo, check out the Events page on its website.