HONOLULU - It's hard to contain the scores of children eager to get close to exotic lizards and snakes.

The cold blooded collection is showcased in a place that was a aging reptile house.

The new exhibit debuted to ohhs and ahhs and proud animal caretakers were ready to share fun facts. Everything you wanted to know about Blue Tongue Lizards and Ball Pythons.

"We created a modern habitat and we called it Ectotherm so it's not just reptiles but amphibians and it's everything cold blooded that needs heat to regulate their temperature," Linda Santos  Honolulu Zoo director said. 

The opening is a shot in the arm for the city, which lost its accreditation after a revolving door of zoo directors.

Now with a 35 year veteran at the helm, it hopes to move forward addressing the facility's shortcomings head-on.

The mayor hopes Santos will provide stability the zoo lacked. Now that there is a mandate of dedicated funding, the aging facilities can get the attention they need.

Its latest challenge is what to do about the roof of a historic building that has been attacked by termites.

Architect Afred Pries designed the original zoo entrance and the Arizona Memorial. 

The city is asking the state what it can or can't do.

"It's a historic building, so we have to go through the proper channels to make sure we do it correctly and once we get that, we hope we can repurpose it and use it again," Santos said. 

Santos expects the Hippo Habitat to reopen later this year.

There are the animal swaps with other zoos that she hopes will add new interest and draw more crowds.

Santos said in her 35 years, she's seen the bar raised with higher animal care standards and a new conservation focus.

The new exhibit showcases Hawaiian Monarch Butterflies and endangered snails.

The next step is attracting sponsors to help speed the improvements, which the city hopes will get it back on track as an accredited zoo.