ZooTunes, hosted by the Woodland Park Zoo, kicks off a series of outdoor summer shows with the B-52s, Indigo Girls, Emmylou Harris, Amos Lee and Jewel.

Make like Yogi Bear and grab your picnic basket, because ZooTunes is kicking off.

Hosted by Woodland Park Zoo, the popular outdoor summer music series features such artists as the Indigo Girls, Emmylou Harris, Amos Lee and Jewel.

“People love the atmosphere,” said Rebecca Whitham, Woodland Park Zoo public relations coordinator. “It’s very laid-back. You can bring your kids and be comfortable with them. And, it’s a great place to catch an evening picnic and music.”

Close to half of the 13 dates are already sold out, including next week’s kickoff show with The B-52s on Wednesday. Many of the remaining shows area are already sold out online and tickets are only available at Metropolitan Market stores. (See box for the complete schedule and remaining ticket information.)

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On concert days, families should come early to enjoy the new penguin exhibit, daily giraffe feedings and the carousel. Then, make a night of it by bringing your own picnic — or splurge on pizza and ice cream from the concession stands. There’s also beer and a wine garden.

ZooTunes patrons can even bring low-backed folding chairs (a maximum of 2 feet tall) and blankets for comfort.

The zoo sells 3,800 tickets for ZooTunes shows, anticipating plenty of children because one child 12 or younger is free with each paid ticket. The venue maxes out at 5,000 people.

“Seating is first-come, first-serve. People come even an hour before the show,” Whitham said. “Several die-hard people come earlier than that.”

Have a family, but want to enjoy your live music kid-free? Here’s a way to escape: This year for the first time, some ZooTunes shows will come with child care. Four will get the child-care benefit this summer — the B-52s show, Mavis Staples and Allen Toussaint on June 24, and the Three Girls and Their Buddy concerts (featuring Emmylou Harris, Patty Griffin, Shawn Colvin and Buddy Miller) on July 1 and 2.

Child care includes games, puppet shows, a live animal encounter and a pizza dinner. The first child costs $25 per evening and each additional child from the same family costs $20. Preregistration is encouraged through www.zoo.org/zootunes, but drop-ins are welcome as well. Depending on the turnout for shows, said Whitham, the zoo may expand child care to other shows.

And to avoid traffic and parking headaches, Shuttle Express provides transportation from Northgate Mall. Rides are $5 per person, with kids 12 and younger free with a paying adult. And if skipping the hassles of traffic and parking and being green weren’t enough of a benefit, here’s another mass-transit perk: Riders have a chance to win VIP seats with a closer view of the stage. (Book Shuttle Express trips via e-mail at sales@shuttleexpress.net or call 425-981-7064.)

Marian Liu: 206-464-3825 or mliu@seattletimes.com