L.A. Zoo Lights 2016 Promises More Lights and More Nights of Dazzling Magic to Kick Off “ZooLAbration: of Zoo’s 50th Anniversary

L.A. ZOO LIGHTS sets a magical nighttime wonderland aglow with thousands of festive lights to ZooLAbrate the Zoo\'s 50th Anniversary; open nightly (except Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day) from Friday, November 18, 2016, through Sunday, January 8, 2017. Credit: JAMIE PHAML.A. ZOO LIGHTS sets a magical nighttime wonderland aglow with thousands of festive lights to ZooLAbrate the Zoo\'s 50th Anniversary; open nightly (except Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day) from Friday, November 18, 2016, through Sunday, January 8, 2017. Credit: JAMIE PHAML.A. ZOO LIGHTS sets a magical nighttime wonderland aglow with thousands of festive lights to ZooLAbrate the Zoo\'s 50th Anniversary; open nightly (except Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day) from Friday, November 18, 2016, through Sunday, January 8, 2017. Credit: JAMIE PHAML.A. ZOO LIGHTS sets a magical nighttime wonderland aglow with thousands of festive lights to ZooLAbrate the Zoo\'s 50th Anniversary; open nightly (except Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day) from Friday, November 18, 2016, through Sunday, January 8, 2017. Credit: JAMIE PHAML.A. ZOO LIGHTS sets a magical nighttime wonderland aglow with thousands of festive lights to ZooLAbrate the Zoo\'s 50th Anniversary; open nightly (except Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day) from Friday, November 18, 2016, through Sunday, January 8, 2017. Credit: JAMIE PHAML.A. ZOO LIGHTS sets a magical nighttime wonderland aglow with thousands of festive lights to ZooLAbrate the Zoo\'s 50th Anniversary; open nightly (except Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day) from Friday, November 18, 2016, through Sunday, January 8, 2017. Credit: JAMIE PHAM

From STAFF REPORTS | Photography by JAMIE PHAM

11:32 am | October 18, 2016


L.A. ZOO LIGHTS returns with more lights and more nights of dazzling magic for its third spectacular year as it kicks off a “ZooLAbration” of the Los Angeles Zoo’s 50th Anniversary on Friday, November 18, 2016, and remains open for seven awe-inspiring weeks through Sunday, January 8, 2017, under the stars at the L.A. Zoo. Awarded USA Today’s 2015 “10 Best Zoo Lights” honor, L.A. Zoo Lights sets the Zoo aglow in wonder and delight to top everyone’s “holiday must” destination list with a fanciful menagerie of animal characters brought to “life,” LED lights by the thousands, giant illuminated snowflakes, a “red-carpet” 50th Anniversary party celebrating the Zoo’s Golden Year, a disco ball forest, glittering twinkle tunnels, stunning 3-D animated projections, and much more. Guests this year enjoy a range of breathtaking new features, among them a laser show set to music boasting majestic screens of water with projections of fanciful animation and an animal shadow puppet installation complete with interactive photo-op and a new waterfall feature in the Children’s Zoo. A giant illuminated snake atop the LAIR (Living Amphibians, Invertebrates, and Reptiles), which made its debut last year, flicks its tongue at Zoo Lights visitors this time around as they approach past a bigger, brighter spider web hanging in the courtyard. Inside the LAIR, guests are bathed in ultraviolet light for a black light party with scurrying “insects” above the rock walls. L.A. Zoo Lights 2016 also presents a discounted all-ages $9 Early Bird admission available online only for November 18 to 23 and November 28 to December 1, a new unlimited-visits Season Pass, exclusive Holiday Happy Hours for ages 21-and-up on December 8 and 15 and a Family New Year’s Eve for all ages.

An instant hit since its 2014 debut, L.A. Zoo Lights captivates guests for an ideal family outing, meet-up with friends or date night with self-guided 60- to 90-minute walking tour through select areas of the Zoo. While most animal residents are asleep, visitors can view the LAIR’s amphibians, invertebrates and reptiles as well as enjoy the only opportunity in Los Angeles to see a real reindeer family comprised of two adults and two adorable babies. A glittering snow-covered setting for photos with Santa Claus, available for an additional fee on select dates, captures holiday memories, and the Zoo’s hand-crafted Tom Mankiewicz Conservation Carousel is open during L.A. Zoo Lights, with $3 per person on-site tickets. L.A. Zoo Lights has attracted nearly 350,000 people over a two-year span, a vast number of whom consumed some 10,000 gallons of steaming hot chocolate and more than 30,000 irresistible churros in 2015. The aforementioned goodies and other seasonal treats and light-themed souvenirs are available for sale.

Established by the private, non-profit Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association (GLAZA) as a festive annual tradition, LA Zoo Lights 2016/17 celebrates not only the Zoo’s 50th anniversary but also its important role as an international leader in the preservation of endangered species, a conservation center for the care and study of wildlife and a special place for people of all ages in the world’s entertainment capital.

Returning this year are “VIP Experiences,” including two exclusive Holiday Happy Hours for the 21-and-up crowd on Thursday, December 8 with an “Ugly Sweater” theme, and Thursday, December 15 with a “60s-Style Cocktail Party” theme, as well as a Family New Year’s Eve for all ages. The two Holiday Happy Hour evenings feature “skip-the-line” express entry to L.A. Zoo Lights at 6 pm with a private lounge from 6:30 to 8:30 pm including hors d’oeuvres, beer, wine and hot and cold specialty cocktails. Tickets for Holiday Happy Hour are $75 per person. Family New Year’s Eve on Saturday, December 31, 6 pm, provides an opportunity to celebrate the coming of 2017 in style with “skip-the-line” express entry to L.A. Zoo Lights, dinner buffet, soft drinks, complimentary champagne for adults, sparkling apple cider for kids, dessert, a ride on the conservation carousel, games, DJ dance party, cash bar and live broadcast of New York’s Times Square ball drop at 9 pm, after which guests are welcome to experience L.A. Zoo Lights until closing. Family New Year’s Eve tickets are $69 for adults and $45 for children, or $64 (adults) and $40 (children) for GLAZA members. Tickets for all three “VIP Experiences” have limited availability, so early purchase is strongly suggested.

Sponsors of L.A. Zoo Lights include Service Systems Associates, 99 Cents Only Stores, Lyft, metroPCS, and Paramount.

The landmark Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens, drawing 1.75 million visitors each year, is home to a diverse collection of 1,100 animals representing 250 different species, many of which are rare or endangered, as well as a botanical collection comprising over 800 different plant species with approximately 7,000 individual plants. Accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), whose members meet rigorous professional standards for animal welfare, the Zoo has achieved renown as an international leader in the preservation of endangered species and a conservation center for the care and study of wildlife. The L.A. Zoo’s lush grounds on 113 acres feature Rainforest of the Americas, an extraordinary collection of endangered and exotic mammals, reptiles, fish and amphibians living in spaces that exemplify their natural habitat in the rainforest biosphere; Chimpanzees of Mahale Mountains, home to one of the largest troops of chimpanzees in the United States; Red Ape Rain Forest, where visitors can walk among orangutans; the LAIR (Living Amphibians, Invertebrates, and Reptiles); Elephants of Asia; Campo Gorilla Reserve; and one of the largest flocks of flamingos in any zoo in the world. Among other highlights are an extraordinary, hands-on Hippo Encounter; the Winnick Family Children’s Zoo and Muriel’s Ranch animal contact area; the Tom Mankiewicz Conservation Carousel; a variety of daily opportunities to learn more about animals, including close-up visits, special feedings and intriguing talks; and much more. The private, non-profit Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association (GLAZA), which has supported the Zoo in partnership with the City of Los Angeles for more than five decades and provides funding for and operates seven essential Zoo departments, has 60,000 member households representing more than 240,000 adults and children. As evidence of the Zoo’s popularity, GLAZA attracts one of the largest membership bases of any cultural organization in Los Angeles.

Admission to L.A. Zoo Lights is $9 with online purchase for all ages and times during the Early-Bird admission period from November 18 to 23 and November 28 to December 1. Thereafter, admission prices vary and start at $14 for adults and $11 for children ages 2 to 12. GLAZA members enjoy ticket discounts of up to 33%. Children under age 2 are free. This year’s new unlimited-access L.A. Zoo Lights Season Pass, with express entry privileges nightly, is $49 for adults and $44 for children ages 2 to 12 (Holiday Happy Hour and Family New Year’s Eve benefits require a separate ticket). Tickets for Holiday Happy Hour are $75 per person (ages 21 and up). Family New Year’s Eve tickets are $69 for adults and $45 for children ages 2 to 12, or $64 (adults) and $40 (children) for GLAZA members. All L.A. Zoo Lights events and evenings take place on a “rain-or-shine” basis, with no rain checks issued. Visit LAZoolights.org for details and to purchase tickets.

The Los Angeles Zoo is located in Griffith Park at the junction of the Ventura (134) and Golden State (5) freeways. Free parking is available. 5333 Zoo Drive, Los Angeles, (323) 644-4200. For additional information about L.A. Zoo Lights, call (866) 949-8007; call center hours are 8 am to 8 pm, seven days a week. For tickets and more, visit LAZoolights.org