The two are housed in a newly built structure at the top of Hovatter's property. Their enclosure features a mural that resembles an African savannah. Hovatter painted it himself.
Zuri and Wednesday have attracted many spectators since their arrival. Zuri needs to be bottle-fed four times a day and the two have become best friends.
The structure was originally built to house elephants but Hovatter said he has decided not to get them.
"Elephants are powerful animals," Hovatter said. "I would have needed to hire someone to be with them around the clock. They need a lot more attention than all the other animals I have. I just don't have the resources to get them now."
The structure has heated floors, which will be beneficial this winter.
Hovatter is preparing to build a barn for his bison and plans on downsizing his animal population before winter. He says he sells most of his animals to local farmers or to animal preserves and then purchases more in the spring. This prevents him from having to house all 300 plus animals in the winter, which can be difficult.
Hovatter said his place is unlike many others. Visitors can get close to the animals and feed about half of them.
"Visitors can get within three feet of every animal," he said. "No outside food is permitted but we do sell carrots, peanuts and other food in line with the animals' diets that are regulated by federal guidelines."
Hovatter sells some of his animals to be featured in films or in television commercials. He also buys from licensed dealers and acquires retired movie production animals.
Other than Zack, he has a chimp named Rosa that was featured in the film "Project X" and was handled by Olivia Newton-John, several tigers that were featured in Exxon commercials and a chimp named Zack that spent four years in Europe doing television commercials.
He contracts with Steve's Working Wildlife in California, Animals Montana in Bozeman and Walt Disney World in Florida.
Hovatter's favorite animal are the chimps.
"They are so smart," he said. "They listen to every command. It's unbelievable. I spend hours with my chimps each day."
Hovatter breeds a lot of his animals. He currently has a pregnant zebra and lioness. The lioness could expect two to four cubs.
"When they have their babies, we go in immediately and remove them," he said. "We evaluate them and nurse them. Our lioness' are not good mothers so we end up taking care of them."
Hovatter does have a veterinarian on call in case animals were to fall ill. In addition, veterinary students from West Virginia University visit at times and work with the animals.
Most of the babies are sold at animal sales or to other licensed dealers.
Hovatter said 100 percent of money made from public visits goes back into the zoo's upkeep. He said he had to live off the bank for 20 years and during the past three years has been able to turn a profit. The zoo is not a state or federally operated park, nor are they funded by them.
Hovatter has never taken a vacation.
"This is a full-time job and I work every day of the year," he said. "The only time I am away is when I go to animal sales and even that takes months of planning."
Hovatter has worked with animals for years and during that time has been attacked by bears, wolves and cougars. The family dog was once mauled by a tiger and required a $3,000 facial reconstruction.
Hovatter's Wildlife Zoo welcomes 70 to 80 school groups each spring and claims the largest collection of exotic animals in the state. It is located at 291 Wagner Road in Kingwood and can be accessed by Herring Road off W.Va. 7. The zoo is well marked.
Families and groups can rent pavilions on the grounds for reunions, parties and other occasions.
Hovatter's is open noon to 7 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. It is closed Mondays, with the exception of holidays, when it opens from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Admission is $10 for adults, $9 for seniors, $8 for children 3-12 and free for children 2 and under.
For more information, call 304-329-3122 or visit westvirginiazoo.com.
Contact writer John Gibb at john.g...@dailymail.com or 304-348-1796.