Holiday cheer is in the air at the Brookfield Zoo

Grace Moore

Like most people, once Thanksgiving is over, I’m thrown right into the Christmas spirit. On Friday, Nov. 27 a couple of friends and I went to the Brookfield Zoo to experience their Holiday Magic Zoo Lights. It was the perfect activity since it wasn’t too cold and the atmosphere put me and my friends into the holiday mindset. The event had tunnels of lights and a game of gnomes that required kids to find all the mythical creatures scattered around the zoo.

Walking into the zoo is always a grand experience, but this time was special. The lights all around the park and the chill in the air created an amazing atmosphere, one that I’d never felt at the zoo before. Christmas trees adorned with rainbow lights lined the main paths of the zoo, creating the perfect mood lighting. The trees lit up the entire park and kept the magic of the season alive. The dark sky made it feel like the zoo was the only place in the world and that I had really entered into a holiday wonderland.

Due to the winter cold, there were only a few animals in their outside habitats. I saw a camel and African painted dogs—mostly likely because the cold air replicated the chilly nights in the desert—as well as a tiger. It was amazing that the zoo was still such a great place without all the animals.

No one was allowed in any indoor attractions or on the playgrounds due to COVID-19. It definitely wasn’t at full capacity, but there were still more people than I expected; however the precautions of masks and social distancing made it feel safer. 

If you plan on seeing the lights, make sure you bring your walking shoes. If walking is a challenge, you could always stop and enjoy the lights from benches around the zoo. It’s a great experience to sit and talk with loved ones and a great way to appeal to all ages. The little kids could see the lights, and buy stuffed animals while the adults grab a beer and enjoy the view. There was even a tunnel of lights that were synced to music so it looked like the tunnel lit up to the beat of the songs. People in the tunnel walked really slowly and even stopped right in front of you, so keep in mind that the tunnel was a slow-paced stroll that takes patience and enjoy your time under the lights. The entire zoo was decorated for the season and made it feel like a winter wonderland the whole time. Hearing the song “At the Zoo, by Simon and Garfunkel, playing over the speakers made me feel as if I was really in the song itself.

The zoo lights themselves were anti-climatic because there weren’t any huge attractions other than the tunnel and the tree lights which were pretty to look at, but that gets old after about 15 minutes. The event is approximately $13 per person if you don’t have a membership but free with a membership. I would say the experience was worth the money because I stayed for two and a half hours and was able to see all the attractions. If you go with friends and keep an open mind, it can still be a great time with lots of laughs and holiday cheer. The Brookfield Zoo Holiday Magic lights can be seen Nov. 27-29, Dec. 2-6, 9-13, 16-20, 26-31.

⅘ paws