An estimated 1,500 people visited the Waco Mammoth Site’s first-ever springtime “Mammoths on the March,” an event augmenting the Fall Fossil Festival held the past three autumns.

“We had over 2,000 visitors last fall and were so pleased with it, we decided to add a spring event,” site director Reagan King said. “We intend to continue with both festivals every year.”

The event offered paid guided tours of the site. Studies continue to reveal clues to the lives of the 23 Columbian mammoths so far known to have died at the site, evidently from floods, from 65,000 to 51,000 years ago.

Since the discovery of a fossil by two youthful arrowhead hunters in 1978, a building has been constructed around the carefully maintained excavation that also has yielded evidence of other animals including a saber-toothed cat’s cub and a camel.

Free attractions Saturday included an on-site adoption event by the Humane Society of Central Texas, educational displays by the Mayborn Museum and the Paleolontological Society of Austin, a display by Habitat for Humanities Restore, a petting zoo, pony rides and a “Plant-a-Seed” display by Home Depot.

An educational “excavation tent” also was erected in advance but was knocked out of service by Friday’s hailstorm.

Mark Scully, attending with his wife, Angela, and boys ages 2 years and 8 months, said the petting zoo made up for the fact that his children would be unlikely to retain the more complicated scientific information offered Saturday.

“It’s nice that all these organizations have this chance to display what they do,” he said.

The dozen exotic creatures in Ewepet’s petting zoo pen included a three-legged dog named Paisley, weighing possibly 15 pounds.

Paisley lost a front leg and suffered other serious injuries when “he caught a truck,” said his owner, Ewepet staffer Paige Guardiola. He seemed to be lapping up attention from children and fitting in perfectly with other animals in the pen.

Jordan Stepp, 11-year-old son of Steven Stepp, won coupons from Shipley’s Donuts for passing a surprise quiz by McLennan College geology student Brett Eaker at the mammoth building’s exit.

“We’ve been coming to this event every fall,” the elder Stepp said. “We live really close to it, and it’s always worth it for the entertainment and to learn something new.”