Wildlights now on display at zoo

Staff Writer
Columbus Parent

Millions of decorative lights are on display nightly through Jan. 3 at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium's 20th season of Wildlights.

Festivities begin at 5 p.m. daily and include carolers from local organizations, an ice-skating rink, model train displays and photos with Santa.

The zoo closes at 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. The zoo is at 4850 W. Powell Road.

Several new attractions are in this year's Wildlights, said Jeff Glorioso, zoo director of marketing.

This year, half of the more than 3-million lights on display are energy-saving LED lights. Next year, the displays' remaining conventional lights will be changed to LEDs. The "greening" of Wildlights was made possible by a two-year $365,000 donation by American Electric Power, Glorioso said.

"AEP estimates we'll save up to 80 percent on the electricity for Wildlights," he said, adding that the LED lights use much less power than conventional lights.

Also new is "Rhythms around the Watering Hole," an animated musical light show around the zoo pond. The nine-minute light show is staged twice each hour. The light show is set to music, including "Jingle Bells" with an animal twist, a "Nutcracker" medley and Trans-Siberian Orchestra's "Christmas Eve Sarajevo."

Visitors can participate in "The Incredible Energy Hunt," collecting energy tips that are posted throughout the zoo.

Completed scavenger hunt forms can be turned in at the Zoo Marketplace and will be entered in weekly drawings for tickets to Disney on Ice, Disney on Ice merchandise, zoo and Zoombezi Bay tickets, memberships and season passes.

The "Frozone" ice rink opens at 4 p.m. Monday through Friday and at noon Saturdays and Sundays. Guests can bring in their own skates or rent skates for $3.

During Wildlights hours, Glorioso said, animals can be seen in these zoo areas:

• "North America" -- My House and My Barn at Habitat Hallow, Santa's reindeer at My Barn, timber wolf, bear, puma, bobcat and wolverine.

• "Asia Quest" -- elephants, rhinos, markhor, Siberian tigers.

• Naomi Coyle Dempsey Quest for Enlightenment Interpretive Center -- sun bear, water monitor, bats and langurs.

• The "Shores" -- includes Discovery Reef, Touch Pool, Manatee Coast, the reptile building and penguins.

• Australia -- animal encounbters, noctural building and koalas.

For more information, contact the zoo at (614) 645-3550 or visit www.colszoo.org/. General admission is $10 for adults and $7 for children ages 2-9 and senior citizens.