DC at Night

DC at Night

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Zoolights Make for Bright Nights

Light monkey welcomes zoo visitors
If you want to extend the Christmas season and you don't mind bundling up against the cold, a visit to Zoolights at the National Zoo is a great choice.

We headed there tonight to take in the light displays, many of them shaped like animals, as well as watch beaming youngsters participate in activities like viewing Panda Claws dance inside a giant snow globe or zoo tubing down Lion/Tiger Hill...

Most of the visitors first headed to the zoo's train station to check out the special model train exhibit featuring a replica scale model of the Smithsonian castle made out of  Legos. Also on display there were all the entries in the Gin-Grr Bread Contest, where participants designed animal habitats out of gingerbread.

In the Lemur Island area, youngsters could take a ride on the newly installed Conservation Carousel, where all the animals appear on the endangered species list.

Smithsonian Castle made from Legos
But the big highlight was the lighted displays made up of 500,000 LED lights.. The zoo lanes were lined with Christmas trees made out lights. Icy dripping lights cascaded down real trees. Some of the displays featured changing lights to seasonal music. And, in some cases, the light displays made it seem as if the snakes, frogs, and lizards were moving.

If you haven't seen Zoolights yet, you will have only one more chance. The lights will be off on New Year's Eve, but will shine one more time on New Year's night. But, since the event is annual, you will always be able to view it once again beginning late next November.

Tales, Tidbits, and Tips
Several of the zoo's animal exhibits were open and none was more crowded than the Great Apes habitat. And the star of that exhibit was Lucy, who decided to show how gorillas fake sleep by curling up in a blanket. Zoo worker Chris said Lucy's antics were simply designed to make sure visitors paid attention to her. "Gorillas do sleep that way in the wild," Chris said. "But the don't use blankets, they use leaves. Watch. Lucy's not sleeping. She'll look up periodically to make sure people are still  watching her and going 'ah, how cute.'" Chris said Lucy will turn 40 next year, but no one is reminding her of her age. "We just tell her she looks fabulous. That's what she wants to hear," Chris said.

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