Christmas at the @IndianapolisZoo 2016
By Carla Knapp
INDIANAPOLIS — The crackle of a warm fire, hand-made decorations and a twinkle in the night — wintertime is full of beauty and wonder. At the Indianapolis Zoo, the best of the holiday season comes together with a “wild” twist during Christmas at the Zoo presented by Teachers Credit Union and Donatos.
Nominated for two consecutive years for USA Today’s 10 Best Zoo Lights nationwide, this festive tradition began back in 1967 when the Indianapolis Zoo became the first zoo in the United States to hold a holiday lights event. Now entering its 48th year, guests can enjoy 28 magical nights of Christmas at the Zoo — Nov. 25-27, 30; Dec. 1-4, 7-11, 14-23 and 26-30, 2016. The Zoo is open each day from noon-9pm and holiday activities begin at 5pm.
The more robust animals will be out late to enjoy the cooler weather, including the tigers, sea lions, red pandas, brown bears, walrus and many others. All of the Zoo’s indoor exhibits will be open to offer a perfect place for guests to go when cheeks get rosy. Additionally, special animal keeper chats throughout the day will help put everyone in the Christmas spirit.
As the sun sets, the glow of twinkling lights will create a magical nighttime experience throughout the Zoo. The 100-percent LED experience is presented by Peyton Manning Children’s Hospital at St. Vincent. Several dancing displays add to the festive atmosphere, including We Three Trees presented by Central Indiana Honda Dealers and the All-A-Glow Light Show. Plus, the White River Junction Train presented by DAMAR Services offers an express ride through a wonderland filled with lights.
As they stroll through the Zoo, guests can warm up with a cup of hot cocoa, sample delicious holiday treats and enjoy carolers singing by the fireside. Plus, visitors who find the hidden mistletoe have a chance to win a spectacular holiday gift — an Animal Art Adventure.
In White River Gardens, visitors can shake off the winter chill and enjoy Santa’s Tropical Paradise inside the Hilbert Conservatory. Families will also love participating in the scavenger hunt presented by USA Insulation. Additional activities await at Santa’s Workshop presented by Chick-fil-A, where the little ones will love to decorate cookies with Mrs. Claus, write letters to Santa and meet Kris Kringle himself through Dec. 23.
Christmas at the Zoo is free for Zoo members and included with regular admission. Discount tickets are available at participating Donatos and Teachers Credit Union locations. Guests can receive $1 off admission at the gate with the donation of a new hat, scarf or gloves to benefit St. Mary’s Child Center. Visit http://IndianapolisZoo.com/ for advance tickets and more information, or call 317-630-2001.