The annual Zoo Lights event season returns to Reid Park Zoo

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Daniyal Arshad and Daniyal Arshad | The Daily Wildcat

Elaborate lights gleam at the Reid Park Zoo Lights preview on Wednesday, Nov. 30. The zoo has put up over 100,000 LED lights for the season.

Reid Park Zoo will light up the night once again this winter with its annual Zoo Lights event. Every evening from Dec. 7 to Dec. 23, the zoo will glow thanks to colorful, animal-shaped light fixtures. 

“Zoo Lights is a special time of year,” said Syndenn Harmon, the cashier supervisor at the zoo. “Everyone here loves to do it. It’s a fun place to be during the holidays.”

It may be hard to see the animals in the dark, but the lights are just as interesting. The animated light show has hundreds of lights timed to different songs that flicker on and off to the beat of the music. For $9.50 for adults and $5.50 for children, visitors can experience a winter wonderland at their local zoo. 

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For Clara Cobb, the zoo’s marketing and communications director, this will be her first Zoo Lights in Tucson. 

She’s visited similar events at zoos across the country, though, and is excited to be a part of this event at Reid Park Zoo. 

“My favorite part is seeing the kids get so excited to be here,” Cobb said. 

And with a carousel and hot chocolate mixed in among the exhibits, who wouldn’t be excited? Kids can also visit Santa and tell him what they would like for Christmas this year.

Zoo employees have been working to set this up since early September and have put in many hours to make this year’s Zoo Lights special. This year’s event brings a new addition: a color-changing lion head.



Events and Outreach Director Jed Dodds said the zoo has been working to make the lights sustainable. Seven or eight years ago, the zoo changed all the lights to LED lights, which are more energy-efficient and better for the environment. With over 100,000 lights total, this was a big project. 

“The idea is to have a fantasy wonderland that’s still thematic to our animals and zoo,” Dodds said. “As you walk through the zoo, you can see a lot of creativity.” The event has been going on for at least 25 years, according to Dodds. 

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Whether it’s the lights in the shape of lions and gazelles, the multicolored tunnel lit up on all sides or the actual animals like the elephants and lions,  Zoo Lights should have something exciting for everyone to see. 


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