ZooLights Photos: Holiday Lights at the National Zoo

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    ZooLights Illuminate the Zoo During the Holiday Season

    ZooLights Entrance
    Photo © Rachel Cooper, licensed to About.com, Inc.

    ZooLights is a free winter holiday event at the National Zoo in Washington, D.C., that is fun for the whole family. The zoo presents a display of thousands of sparkling lights featuring some of its most popular animals. This annual event is a regional favorite.

    ZooLights is sponsored by Pepco. It runs from November 24 to January 1 (except Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and New Year's Eve) from 5 to 9 p.m. Enjoy the following photos and learn more about the festivities. 

    (Note: All attractions are weather permitting. Some attractions may be closed when temperatures fall below 36 degrees Fahrenheit.)

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    Tigers in Lights

    Photo © Rachel Cooper, licensed to About.com, Inc.

    ZooLights features light sculptures of a variety of zoo animals. The event includes winter treats, opportunities to shop for the holiday, and nightly musical and theatrical performances on a stage near Lion/Tiger Hill. 


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    Elephants in Lights

    Photo © Rachel Cooper, licensed to About.com, Inc.

    Not only are animals such as elephants illuminated by holiday lights but there are also brightly illuminated trees, shrubs, and statues. 

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    Howling Wolf in Lights

    Photo © Rachel Cooper, licensed to About.com, Inc.

    Wolves howl at the moon at ZooLights. More than 500,000 environmentally-friendly LED lights decorate the zoo and transform it into a winter wonderland.

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    Tamarins in Lights

    Photo © Rachel Cooper, licensed to About.com, Inc.

    Cute tamarin monkeys are sculpted in colorful holiday lights. In addition to animal light displays, ZooLights features a variety of entertainment and fun activities such as shopping at a European-style outdoor market offering crafts by local artisans. 

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    Panda in Lights

    Photo © Rachel Cooper, licensed to About.com, Inc.

    Visitors at ZooLights will enjoy the sparkling lights, winter-themed crafts, ice-sculpting demonstrations, choral groups, and storytellers. The light displays are sponsored by Pepco, the local power company. Smart Energy Talks are given by Pepco representatives who provide tips on saving energy.

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    Panda in Snowglobe

    Photo © Rachel Cooper, licensed to About.com, Inc.

    Not only are there pandas in lights at the zoo but there's also a panda in a giant snowglobe. Don't miss this 10-foot-tall snowglobe with a costume panda inside. This is a great spot to take holiday photos.

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    Animal Exhibits and Adopt-a-Species Package

    Zoolights Cats
    © Smithsonian's National Zoo

    Several animal houses are open during ZooLights including the Small Mammal House, Reptile Discovery Center, and Think Tank.

    In this photo, the male Sumatran tiger, Kavi, was introduced to the young female tiger, Damai. Visitors can support the zoo's conservation programs with the Adopt-a-Species package that helps these fascinating felines as well as other zoo species. With a special donation of $65 or more, your special someone will receive a gift set that includes a cuddly plush tiger, a colorful photo, an adoption certificate, and more delivered inside an “animal carrier” box.

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    ZooLights Train Display

    © Smithsonian National Zoo

    ZooLights at the National Zoo features a model train display in the National Zoo visitor center. Watch toy trains as they journey across the visitor center through a land of Legos and an alphabet countryside. There's also a life-size trackless train that you can ride around the Great Cats exhibit. 

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    Ging-grr-bread Habitat Contest

    © Smithsonian National Zoo

    Gingerbread enthusiasts can enter the National Zoo’s “Ging-grr-bread Habitat” contest. A twist on the traditional gingerbread house, contestants are asked to build a gingerbread animal habitat in honor of the zoo residents. Pictured here is an example of one of the entries. See ZooLights dates, times, and ticketing information.

    More About the National Zoo