Zoo Lights: Dazzling Displays and Nocturnal Creatures

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The Los Angeles Zoo’s now-traditional, always dazzling holiday offering, Zoo Lights, is back through January 7th. With live reindeer, a beautifully decorated Santa stop on select dates, and GLAZA’s opulent carousel to ride, this is a family fest that shouldn’t be missed.

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Above, a new LED-lit tree at the Zoo Lights entrance.

This year, tots in tow really got into the act, dancing to the holiday music, saying “Wow” to the lustrous display.

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Favorite sections of the show return this year, such as the purple lights and disco balls, the pink flamingos, the almost other-worldly green and orange ornaments with sparkling green lights dancing over the ramp that visitors can use instead of steps to enter the zoo.

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Awarded USA Today’s “10 Best Zoo Lights” honors in 2015 and 2016 and nominated again this year,  new features include a musical holiday tree, a re-designed water show, and a beautiful Northern Lights series of animal constellations.

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The finale – after passing through a more-dazzling-than-ever glittering tunnel, replaces the tribute to Hollywood visuals with a new Wild Wonderland that highlights endangered and vulnerable animal species. Faux snow also falls in a fun dance area which every small child we saw was absolutely thrilled by. 

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The ceiling of the reptile house, open for visitors to explore the exhibits, is more decorated than ever, too.

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As to the living creatures at the zoo, along with amphibians basking in the warm light of the reptile exhibit, there’s a lovely aquarium display.  Outside, swans sail and meerkats pop up for nocturnal views.

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A docent passed a set of shed-antlers from the reindeer, offering kids and adults alike a chance to touch these as well as watching Santa’s friends in their enclosure.

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For more information and tickets, click here. 

The L.A. Zoo is located at 5333 Zoo Dr. in Los Angeles.

  • Genie Davis; photos Jack Burke

Roaring Good Fun Lights Up the LA Zoo



Now through January 8th, join the roar and wonder of lights at L.A. Zoo Lights. The Los Angeles Zoo’s now-traditional, always dazzling holiday offering is a justifiably popular replacement for the DWP Holiday Light Festival, a drive through that once called Griffith Park home.


The Zoo display is a delightful crowd pleaser, with a cheerful color palette, a rain forest canopy, recycled water bottles recreated as illuminated frogs – all fantastic fun for all ages. Adults, babies in strollers – grab a churro or a hot chocolate or cocktail and enjoy.


Silver birds soar through one of our favorite sections, all purple lights and shimmering mirrored disco balls.


Flamingos as lithe as pink musical notes hop; neon meerkats dazzle.

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Entering along a path lit by large glowing holiday ornaments sets the stage for what’s to come, an animal-centric, whimsical display of illuminated critters.


In a new and more easily viewable location this year are crowd-favorites like elephant statues illuminated with a changing pattern of designs from Christmas sweaters to sparkling lights to tribal markings. Santa and his live reindeer continue to charm children.


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The now-open LAIR reptile house makes a fascinating stop and a good way to step out of chilly night air. Friendly docents explain what these nocturnal critters do.


Around the corner an even more spectacular water and light show this year runs in fifteen minute intervals, creating glowing surreal images out of the mist.

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Palm trees become multi-colored and fanciful, a parade of Christmas trees vies for attention with alligators and rhinos, and there are tunnels of lights leading into and out of the Hollywood scene that concludes the exhibit, with a Hollywood-premiere red carpet, and illuminated images of the Hollywood Bowl, freeways, and Capitol records.


Two hours allows for a leisurely look and a quick cup of cocoa, stay longer to visit Santa.

L.A. Zoo Lights runs 7 days a week through January 8th, from 6 to 10 p.m. , closed December 24 and 25. Don’t miss the Family New Year’s Eve celebration, with express entry to L.A. Zoo Lights, a dinner buffet with soft drinks and dessert, a carousel ride, games, DJ dance party, and live broadcast of the Times Square ball drop.


More details and tickets can be found here. The L.A. Zoo is located at 5333 Zoo Dr. in Los Angeles.

  • Genie Davis; photos Genie Davis, Jack Burke

Sex and the City Zoo: GLAZA Informs and Entertains



You won’t find Carrie Bradshaw hanging out at Sex and the City Zoo, but maybe she should give it a whirl, and learn about the mating habits of species besides her own.


At Sex and the City Zoo, a charming and informative Valentine’s Weekend event at the Los Angeles Zoo, GLAZA once again shows an enormous capacity for the expansion of its educational offerings, served up with a heaping dose of fun.


The event began with a dessert buffet and wine served in the museum’s courtyard. There were also adorable stuffed animal zoo gift baskets available to purchase to support zoo conservation efforts.


While guests mixed and mingled, zoo staff circulated bearing a touchable Angolan Python, an ‘ooh and ahh’ worthy cute sugar glider, and a Hawaiian owl named Paula who came to Los Angeles as a stowaway on a naval ship.



Once visiting and noshing ended, guests moved into the zoo’s comfortable auditorium for a lively talk by chief curator Beth Schaefer. Here the audience laughed, learned, and groaned over animal mating rituals.


The male octopus disguises itself as a female in order to go undetected and avoid being devoured; bees sometimes have sex mid-air, bower birds woo their mates by building elaborate bowers that include found objects from car keys to soda straws. Male ostriches are supremely helpful with incubating eggs and watching over babies, and also engage in elaborate mating dances. And, well may they dance: most male birds do not have penises – the theory being such an appendage would adversely affect flight dynamics. But ostriches do, and also ducks. Ah, but ducks – well. Apparently most duck sexual behavior is not consensual, and male ducks lose their genitalia after they mate – growing a new one prior to each mating period. Um. Yes. That will teach them.

From learning about the great apes interest in oral copulation to the zoo’s success story for reproduction in endangered species like prong horn antelope and condors, this was a highly entertaining and memorable evening. Attendees could also opt to extend it with an elegant dinner set up on zoo grounds following the talk.


We say: stay alert to other special occasion zoo events: from the holiday festival of Zoo Lights to new children’s programs that allow kids to pet a hippo, and fascinating presentations like these – there’s plenty that’s new and fun to do at the zoo. Yes, the rhymes are intentional.

So…how about those ducks?


  • Genie Davis; All Photos by Jack Burke