From the Desk of Dan Ashe

Celebrating the Season with ZooLights

The holiday season is fast approaching, and all over the country, AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums are getting into the holiday spirit with ZooLights and other celebrations.

Staff and volunteers at over 50 AZA facilities have ornamented their zoos and aquariums with festive, creative decorations, and the end results are absolutely incredible! From animal-themed glowing light displays and scuba-diving Santas, there’s no shortage of holiday cheer.

Throughout the holidays, our dedicated veterinary, keeper, and aquarist teams will be working tirelessly to make sure the animals receive the best care. For some animals that prefer warmer weather, this work goes on behind the scenes. However, our zoos and aquariums are committed to a fun-filled, family experience, even as the days get shorter and the weather chillier.

Families can meet Panda Claws and learn about “Adaptation/Migration in the Anthropocene” at Smithsonian’s National Zoo in D.C., or watch Scuba Santa swim with the sharks at Newport Aquarium’s Winter Wonderland. And the Oregon Zoo, Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago, and Stone Zoo in Stoneham, Mass. are among the many that host BrewLights events: a chance for the 21+ crowd to sample craft beers while enjoying the holiday lights.   

That’s one of the great things about ZooLights and other special events- they give visitors the chance to celebrate the holiday season and continue to learn about animals and be inspired to help conservation efforts. Plus, they get to see the zoo in a whole new way- lit up- at night!

Many of our member zoos have shared photos of their unique events to social media, and you can see the great displays on AZA’s Facebook page. And this year, all ten of the zoos voted “Best Zoo Lights” by USA Today’s 10Best Readers' Choice online public voting contest were AZA-accredited members.  Congratulations to Toledo Zoo, whose “Lights Before Christmas” received the first-place spot for the second year in a row, and to Detroit Zoo, the Saint Louis Zoo, Phoenix Zoo, Indianapolis Zoo, Riverbanks Zoo, Columbus Zoo & Aquarium, Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden, Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, and Memphis Zoo.

Thanks to all for your hard work. Happy holidays, and see you in 2018!

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