As approximately 2 million yearly visitors can attest, the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium has a lot to offer. There's the Zoombezi Bay waterpark, Safari Golf Club and a smorgasbord of exciting events. At the heart of it all are the animals - Alaskan brown bears Brutus and Buckeye, reticulated python Hanna and approximately 10,000 others.

As approximately 2 million yearly visitors can attest, the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium has a lot to offer. There's the Zoombezi Bay waterpark, Safari Golf Club and a smorgasbord of exciting events. At the heart of it all are the animals - Alaskan brown bears Brutus and Buckeye, reticulated python Hanna and approximately 10,000 others.

But since July, numerous patrons have been more interested in a new crop of creatures lurking in corners across the 588-acre complex - and out of the control of the zoo.

"The little things move all over the place," said Vice President of Technology Services Gregg Oosterbaan.

The creatures in question are Pokemon, and they're part of the augmented reality game "Pokemon Go."

"It really struck us as amazing the first couple days, how many people were here to play," Oosterbaan said. In addition to the alleged 151 types of Pokemon that pop up on visitors' screens, Technology Services quickly noticed a whopping 60-plus PokeStops and six gyms, or battle locations, scattered throughout the zoo.

"There were a few that were in some strange places," Oosterbaan said. "But there aren't any that you can't get to, because of the way the game is designed."

For example, even though there is a PokeStop on a termite mound in the African savanna, patrons are able to access the feature on their screens while standing on the public paths. Similarly, they will "bump" into Pokemon well outside of animal enclosures.

"And we kinda watched … whether [people] had any urge to get any closer than just the public walkways, and we didn't really see any problems," Oosterban said. "In fact, it's been kinda fun to watch people [play]."

"We've seen all walks of life," said Senior Education Instructor Stacey Glatz. "I've heard people say they've lost weight. I've heard a dad say, 'This is one of the few things I do with my teenage daughter.' So it's really brought people closer together."

Glatz has also seen a lot of people hanging around the pond catching water Pokemon, as well as setting lures to draw Pokemon.

"During the height of summer … I would say there'd be at least five to eight lures around the zoo at any given point of the day," she said.

Witnessing people purchasing memberships solely to play "Pokemon Go," the zoo decided to create an educational event around the craze back in August. Patrons were given trainer cards and earned badges, or stickers, by answering conservation questions at each region of the zoo. Once they filled up their cards, they could trade them in to enter to win an after-hours tour of the zoo.

"We had people not want to turn in their cards because they liked the badges so much," Glatz said. "We didn't raise a ton of revenue, which is fine. We had some gift shop sales, which is great, but the main reason for the education side of it was to get the conservation message out there … especially to audiences that we don't normally reach."

The next "Pokemon Go" event will take place during Cartoon Weekend at the zoo, Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 24 and 25, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Attendees will have a chance to win admission to a mystery dinner theater show, a lunchtime pizza party or an after-hours tour.

Patrons aren't the only "Pokemon Go" players; zoo employees are also joining the fun. "You see people [playing] on their lunch hour," Glatz said. "[Or] they change their shirt and walk around a little bit after their shift."

Of course not everyone is into the game. "On social media, we just get people who point out, 'Oh I just wish people would enjoy the animals,'" said Communications Assistant Shirley Blaine.

"They're still getting the nature benefit," Glatz said. "They're still out here at the zoo. … Hopefully they will see some animals. Hopefully they will learn something about conservation even though their main goal is to play Pokemon."