The holiday season tends to bring out people’s most animalistic instincts, causing them to scratch and claw each other at sales racks and plant trees indoors to evoke our former forest habitats. Release the beast within with today’s Groupon to ZooLights! at Utah’s Hogle Zoo December 3–7. The holiday lights show opens nightly at 5:30 p.m. Choose between the following options:
- For $6, you get two adult tickets (a $12 value).
- For $4, you get two child (3–12) or senior (65+) tickets (an $8 value). Children 2 and younger are admitted free.<p>
At the fifth-annual ZooLights! extravaganza, the eyes of Bactrian camels and endangered Asian cats catch the glint of more than 200 holiday light displays and one million sparkling bulbs. Jungle trees and railings light up in a spectacle brighter than an Einstein gone supernova as guests wander through the various animal habitats, pausing under heaters and sampling seasonal treats, including deep fried s’mores, along the way. Santa’s own Comet and Vixen take time off from their annual flight school to lead a nightly reindeer parade that marches through the main plaza shortly after opening. Meanwhile, Amur tigers scurry about the Asian Highlands exhibit as children attempt to discern the difference between snow and snow leopards.
To entertain their hordes of holiday guests, staffers prepare nightly activities that range from ice carving to children’s crafts. Sing along with vintage carolers, saddle up on the Conservation Carousel, or sit on Santa’s lap and inquire about the minutiae of Finnish fauna. ZooLights! stays open until 9 p.m. after Saturday’s opening-night ceremony and until 8 p.m. Sunday through Wednesday, allowing guests ample time to visit Hogle Zoo’s animals and explore 42 acres of tree-lined pathways.
Utah's Hogle Zoo
Traditionally, if you wanted to find out the length of a giraffe's tongue, you'd have to hide in a tree with a ready hand and a yardstick. Utah's Hogle Zoo has streamlined the process, however: one of its animal encounters allows guests to feed the long-necked creatures alongside a keeper, who will happily tell you that their purple tongues stretch for 20 inches. The giraffes are just one of more than 800 animals inside the zoo grounds. Spanning 42 acres of verdant hillside property, the exhibits strive to showcase fauna in arenas that mimic their natural habitats.
The polar bear inside Rocky Shores—the zoo's largest exhibit to date—lumbers through a landscape inspired by North America's western coast, with a pool that affords guests underwater views of the bear’s attempts to secure its swim cap. Snow leopards, Siberian lynxes, and amur tigers prowl the Himalayan-inspired scenery of the Asian Highlands. At Elephant Encounter's African Lodge, visitors can touch an elephant skull or a rhino horn before glimpsing the pachyderms in the flesh. Summer shows send eagles and hawks swooping overhead in the Wildlife Theatre. From loping wolves and toothy crocodiles to the sagely gorillas of the Great Apes house, the beasts all benefit from the staff's enrichment efforts, which encourage learning as well as instinctual behaviors.
As an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, Utah's Hogle Zoo demonstrates a commitment to wildlife conservation that extends beyond its gates. Many of its special events contribute funds to preservation programs. For example, the Orange Utahn Art show raises donations for endangered primates, selling original works by both local artists and the zoo's orangutans, who compose colorful paintings. Guests can even get a closer look at imperiled species by saddling up on top of one—the Conservation Carousel arrays 42 hand-carved sculptures of at-risk animals, such as the red panda, the giant panda, and the false panda, which is just a black poodle that rolled in some paint.
2600 Sunnyside Ave.
Salt Lake City, Utah 84108Get Directions