And A Happy Zoo Year!

This year is quickly coming to a close, but that doesn’t mean all zoo events are over!  Many local zoos are planning to greet 2010 with a bang this year.

Cleveland Metroparks Zoo holds their "Noon at the Zoo 2009"

On December 31, the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo will hold its annual New Years celebration that they call “Noon Years Eve.”  This event is tailored especially for young children who may not be able to ring in the new year at midnight.  Instead, the zoo invites families with children to countdown to noon on the 31st.

Last year my father and I went out of sheer curiosity.  It was actually a very cute event.  A DJ was present and busy providing musical entertainment for the kids, Zoo staff were handing out free goodies and everyone was having a general good time.  When the time came to countdown to noon, a large boomer ball with 2009 painted on it was lowered as attendees watched.

Noon Years Eve at the Toledo Zoo

The Cleveland Zoo isn’t the only one with New Years festivities.  The Toledo Zoo will also be having their own “Noon Years Eve” on December 31.  The Toledo Zoo will also be holding family-friendly activities from 11:00 a.m. until 1:00 p.m. which includes a countdown to noon.

The Cincinnati Zoo will also be holding a similar event called a Happy Zoo Year on December 31st.

These events not only provide a fun activity for families with children, they also give zoos a chance to engage their public.  It is a wonderful opportunity to showcase all that the zoos have to offer and hopefully gain some new members out of the visiting families.

Zoos also like to hold specials during the winter months to keep visitors coming even when it is cold out.

In order to entice people to visit during the coldest part of the year the Cleveland Zoo has Polar Bear days.  Starting January 2nd and lasting until the 31st, admission to the zoo is half-price when the temperature is below 32 degrees.

The Cincinnati Zoo holds a similar event called Frozentoesen.  From January to February admission to the zoo is half-price.  There is also ice carving, entertainment and special animal feedings for guests to enjoy.


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More Holiday Cheer

Santa and Mrs. Claus visit the penguins at the Akron Zoo

The Columbus Zoo isn’t the only zoo with fun events for the holidays.  The Cleveland Zoo, Akron Zoo, Toledo Zoo and Cincinnati Zoo all have exciting special events planned for the Christmas season.

The Akron Zoo is holding its annual Snack with Santa event December 12, 13, 19 & 20 this year.  The event is a popular and fun event for families with children.

The children are invited to decorate their own Christmas cookies, feed the Humboldt Penguins and get their pictures taken with Santa Clause himself!

This event is very popular and sometimes sells out.  Attendees are encouraged to buy tickets ahead of time for their preferred date.

The jolly old elf will also be making an appearance at the Cleveland Zoo for their Breakfast with Santa event.  Also geared towards families with young children, the event features a breakfast, holiday crafts, animal encounters, gifts for the children, and of course, pictures with Santa Claus.

This event will take place on December 5, 6, 12 & 13th inside the zoo’s Primate, Cats & Aquatics building.  It is also a very popular event and once again, attendees are encouraged to buy their tickets ahead of time.

Festival of Lights at the Cincinnati Zoo

As I had mentioned in my last post, Columbus Zoo isn’t the only place where you can go to see holiday lights and animals.  Both the Toledo Zoo and the Cincinnati Zoo have light shows planned this year.  This is good news for our friends in both north and south Ohio.

The Cincinnati Zoo’s light show is called the Festival of Lights and is sponsored by PNC bank.  They too have a light show around their swan lake for visitors to enjoy.  They also have a puppet show for younger guests, holiday entertainers, a Polar Express 4-D experience, a gingerbread village, and stories read by Mrs. Clause.  Santa Claus will also be on hand so children can get in their last minute requests.

The event Starts Friday, November 27 and runs through January 3rd.  Tickets are available online at the zoo’s website.

The Lights Before Christmas at the Toledo Zoo

I had mentioned very briefly in my last post that the Toledo Zoo has a light show as well.  It is called the Lights Before Christmas and is sponsored by Key Bank.  The event begins November 20th and runs through December 31st this year.

My grandparents used to live near Toledo in the city of Oregon.  When we came for Christmas, it was tradition to visit the zoo and see their light show.

It has grown significantly since then and now features over one million lights, 200 images of favorite zoo animals, ice carving demonstrations, holiday performances, and visits with Santa.  There is something for the whole family and it is an event that is definitely worth checking out.

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Tis the Season…

November is here and it is almost time for my favorite zoo event.  Each year as this event draws nearer, I mark my calendar and call my friends in Columbus in preparation for a road trip.  I have found that attending this event is a perfect way to kick off the holiday season.


I am talking about  Wildlights at the Columbus Zoo.  In eleven days (November 20th) the Columbus Zoo will transform into a park full of light and color.  The spectacle is just what you would expect from the zoo ranked #1 in America by USA Travel Guide.

The zoo goes all out for the holidays and adorns every inch of their park with lights.  In an effort to conserve on energy, many of the lights have been converted to LEDs.

On weekends there is special holiday entertainment such as carolers and musicians for the public to enjoy.  Last year the Columbus Zoo even had a small ice skating rink for visitors to enjoy.  Hot chocolate booths located around the park complete the perfect seasonal atmosphere.

If you are a fan of the houses with dancing lights, the Columbus Zoo has taken it to another level.  They have created an intricate show using the lights on the trees, flowerbeds and pavilions surrounding the central lake.   All of the lights have been programmed to move in time to music that plays throughout the evening.  The time and energy that goes into the preparation of this spectacular show is obvious and well worth it.

Below is a video of the Carol of the Bells section of the light show.  You have to watch it all the way through, the end is amazing.

Lights Before Christmas at the Toledo Zoo

The lights aren’t the only attraction at the Columbus Zoo.  The animal exhibits are still open and decorated for the holidays.  Many times viewing is better during the cooler months since animals tend to be more active.  A nice thing about the Columbus Zoo is that many of the exhibits are indoors.  No matter how cold it is outside, there is always a place to warm up.

During the Wildlights season, the Columbus Zoo is open from 9 a.m. until 9 p.m. weekdays and 9 a.m. until 10 p.m. on the weekends.  Wildlights begins November 20th and ends January 2nd.

Columbus Zoo isn’t the only one who throws a holiday light show.  The Toledo Zoo also holds a holiday extravaganza called The Lights Before Christmas.  This event kicks off November 20th as well and runs through December 31st.

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Thankful for Zoos

Halloween may be over, but more celebrations are just around the corner!  For zoos and aquariums, the winter holidays are a wonderful opportunity for public relations.  Zoos attract visitors by celebrating the winter holidays with various events like New Year’s parties and extravagant light shows.

The next major holiday coming up is Thanksgiving.  The Cleveland Metroparks Zoo has already begun preparations for its Thanksgiving celebration.

On Thanksgiving day, November 26th, the Zoo will open its gates to the public for free.  That’s right.  Free.

What better way to attract the public to your zoo?  Free admission allows the Cleveland Zoo to expose new visitors to all it has to offer.  Guests can see all of the animals, enjoy the grounds and have a wild day, all courtesy of the Cleveland Zoo.


Tiger at the Cleveland Zoo gets a frozen treat for Thanksgiving. 11/27/08

The Cleveland Zoo will also hold special animal enrichment activities for the animals throughout the day.  Last year I went to the Cleveland Zoo for this event and there were many special Thanksgiving-themed enrichment activities.

Many of the carnivores received turkey treats if their diet allowed.  Other carnivores, like the tigers,  received blocks of ice with meat and bones frozen in them.  Zookeepers threw these blocks of ice into the pool in the tigers’ enclosure.  The tigers then had fun trying to retrieve the ice and then get to the meat inside.

Polar Bear plays with a pumpkin

Other animals were given pumpkins to play with and munch on.  These enrichment activities are not only fun for the animals, they are exciting for visitors to watch.

Enrichment activities are also a good tool for teaching the public about the different animals.  It also gives zookeepers time to talk about conservation efforts and what the public can do to help save these magnificent creatures.

So this Thanksgiving, instead of sitting in front of the TV, consider spending the day at the zoo!  It’s free and you might actually learn something!

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An Earth Friendly Halloween

Some Ring-Tailed Lemurs enjoy a Jack-o-Lanturn

Some Ring-Tailed Lemurs enjoy a Jack-o-Lanturn

Many people are excitedly getting ready for the Halloween festivities this weekend. Candy is being purchased by the pounds, costumes are flying off the rack and pumpkins are being picked. People are putting the finishing touches on their outfits and finalizing their Halloween plans. But after the festivities are over, all of the decorations, costumes and props are either thrown away or packed up for another year.

The Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden wants to help people prevent waste this Halloween.  They published a tip sheet listing ten ways you can Go Green for Halloween.

The list includes:

1. Costume trading:  instead of throwing an old costume away, you can recycle it the next year by trading for someone else’s gently used costume.  This makes a lot of sense because usually costumes are only worn once or twice and are perfectly good the following year.  Costume trading helps reduce waste and also saves money in the long-run!

2. Make your own Mask: Vinyl masks emit toxic fumes and plastic masks are not biodegradable.  Instead of using these, they suggest painting your face with homemade face paint.

3. Carving and Candles:  Buy an organic pumpkin from your local farmer’s market.  Instead of using traditional candles for your jack-o-lantern, use soy or beeswax candles.  They burn cleaner and longer than regular candles.  If you want to be even more earth-conscience, you can use battery operated lights with rechargeable batteries.  After you have carved the pumpkin, don’t throw out the insides.  You can toast the seeds for a great snack.

4. Use a Reusable Treat Bag:  Instead of buying special plastic treat bags, use a cloth bag that you can reuse.  A pillowcase works well and usually holds more treats anyway.

5. House-to-House:  Trick-or-treat in a safe neighborhood that is within walking distance.  By walking, you are cutting down on car emissions.

Crank Flashlight

Crank Flashlight

6. Finding your Way:  Light your way with a flashlight that uses rechargeable batteries.  To save even more energy, use a flashlight that you can shake or crank.

7. Light it Up:  Switch out your incandescent porch light for an energy-efficient compact fluorescent bulb or an LED light

8. Closed Door Policy:  Sit on your porch to pass out candy to trick-or-treaters.  When you open and close the door for trick-or-treaters, you end up wasting energy.

9. Eco-Treats:  Hand out organic candy to trick-or-treaters this year.  Since this is sometimes hard to find, you could instead hand out raisins or granola bars.

Smash pumpkins before throwing them out

Smash pumpkins before throwing them out

10. Smashing Pumpkins:  Instead of simply throwing out your pumpkin at the end of the holiday, smash it first.  This will begin the decomposition process.

With these tips and tricks, your Halloween is sure to be a more earth-friendly celebration.

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Zoo Haunts

I have always associated October with fun at the Zoo.  When I was little my family lived in Columbus.  This meant that as Halloween drew nearer each October, I would wait in anticipation for Boo at the Zoo.  The annual event held at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium was always exciting.  Where else could you dress up, get candy and see animals all at the same time?

Boo at the Cleveland Zoo

Boo at the Cleveland Zoo

Today nearly every zoo does something to celebrate Halloween in a kid-friendly way.  Not only is this event fun for children, the adults have a good time too.  It is also a great way to showcase the zoo.  Families that have never visited the zoo before can get a first-hand look at all it has to offer.

Boo at the Akron Zoo

Boo at the Akron Zoo

A few years ago I was an intern at the Akron Zoo.  While I was there I was able to help out with the organization and execution of their Boo at the Zoo event.

In order to put together a successful event, it requires a lot of teamwork, organization and creativity.  Candy had to be purchased and organized, decorations had to be set up and the Communications Department had to get the word out to the community.

Boo at the Zoo usually takes place the last two or three weekends of October. At the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo and Akron Zoo, the zoos close to the general public a little early in order to get ready for the evening event.  Due to the popularity of the event, tickets are sold in advance and many times sell out.  At the Toledo Zoo, Cincinnati Zoo, and Columbus Zoo, Boo at the Zoo runs all day and is part of regular admission.

Most zoos have fun decorating for Halloween.  At the Akron Zoo, different parts of the park have different themes.  Some of these include a pirate grotto, the old west and under the sea.  There are twelve themed stations in all around the park.

Dinosaurs! is part of Clevelands Boo at the Zoo

Dinosaurs! is part of Cleveland's Boo at the Zoo

Other zoos have special features as well.  At the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo they have extended their popular Dinosaurs! exhibit through Boo at the Zoo.  However, visitors do have the option to skip the exhibit if it is too scary for younger trick-or-treaters.

Watch the video below to see how Cincinnati Zoo keepers entertain visitors and animals by giving the animals pumpkins filled with treats.  It is enrichment with a holiday flair.  

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Partying at the Zoo

What is the best way to raise money for a zoo or an aquarium?  Throw a party!

Zoos and aquariums hold many types of events in order to raise money for their organizations.  Many times they hold wine or beer tasting events.  These events appeal to a different audience than the usual families with small children.  These events usually target older audiences like the young professionals.

Zoo Brew event at the Cincinnati Zoo

Zoo Brew event at the Cincinnati Zoo

On October 15th, the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden is holding their Zoo Brew Event.  It is part of their A Toast to the Wild event series which benefits CREW.  CREW stands for the Carl H. Lindner Jr. Family Center for Conservation and Research of Endangered Wildlife, a center that focuses on research and saving endangered plants and animals from extinction.

Guests can purchase tickets in advance for $30 or get them on the day of the event for $40.  Tickets let the guests enjoy an evening of entertainment and live music.  They even have beer provided by Sam Adams.

The Cleveland Zoo Society also holds a similar event in the summer called Twilight at the Zoo.  This year the event was held in August and tickets were around $75 per person.  The proceeds go to the Cleveland Zoo Society which in turn benefits the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo.

The evening consists of live music, entertainment, buffet dinner and drinks.  The event has been wildly popular in years past and continues to attract a large crowd each year.  It is a great way for the zoo to reach out to a different audience and raise money at the same time.

The Akron Zoo holds its summer jazz series every year as well.  Last year the series consisted of four evening concerts featuring different local artists, food and fun.

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