6-8:30 p.m.

December 3-12 (Friday through Sunday nights)

December 17-January 1 (Every night except December 24, 25, and 31)

See the Zoo in a whole new light! This year, as a holiday gift to the city, Friends of the National Zoo announces ZooLights is free!

Create memories with loved ones while enjoying thousands of environmentally-friendly light and animal exhibits, entertainment, and a special train ride for children. Visitors can thaw their paws in our animal houses while attending special keeper talks, or stop by the Visitor Center to see the Zoo-themed model trains and the gingerbread habitat contest entries on display in the auditorium. Of course, the crown jewels of ZooLights are the dozens of animal light displays, including a new display featuring Andean bears.

The Small Mammal House, Great Ape House, Reptile Discovery Center, Think Tank, and Kids’ Farm will be open every night.

Partake of a delicious array of holiday treats at the Zoo’s Visitor Center including hot chocolate, warm cider, mulled wine, coffee, chocolates, and baked goods. For dinner, the Mane Restaurant will be offering a full menu including the new option of pizza. Throughout the park you will find cheese steak sandwiches, kettle corn, and funnel cake.

December 21: FedEx Night Come to FedEx Night at ZooLights! The FedEx Special Delivery truck will be on hand with a special candy cane giveaway for our guests. Be sure to ride the FedEx Panda Express moving train ride, then stop by the FedEx truck for your free treat!

December 26: SunTrust Night Come to SunTrust Night at ZooLights! The first 500 people to visit the Great Cats and Panda Plaza gift shops will receive a backpack, courtesy of SunTrust Bank.

Starbucks will be on hand from 7 to 8 p.m. inside the Visitor Center lobby to help celebrate our gingerbread contest. They will pass out free samples of Starbucks gingerbread lattes and other surprises. Pepco will celebrate the contest by giving away free gingerbread cookies featuring compact fluorescent light bulbs in frosting. Visit Pepco during their special energy talks at 6:30, 7, and 7:30 to receive your cookie!

Five Weeks of ZooLights

Each week of ZooLight will highlight a different animal house or area of the Zoo. Come explore all five!

Week One December 3, 4, and 5 Reptile Discovery Center
Week Two December 10, 11, and 12 Great Ape House
Week Three December 17, 18, and 19 Kids’ Farm
Week Four December 20, 21, 22, and 23 Small Mammal House
Week Five December 26, 27, 28, 29, 30
and January 1
Keepers Nights

Food at ZooLights

Partake of a delicious array of holiday treats at the Zoo’s Visitor Center including hot chocolate, warm cider, mulled wine, coffee, chocolates, and baked goods. For dinner, the Mane Restaurant will be offering a full menu including the new option of pizza. Throughout the park you will find cheese steak sandwiches, kettle corn, and funnel cake.

Trains and Train Rides

Train enthusiasts won’t want to miss two new highlights: the Zoomagination Train Station inside the Zoo’s Visitor Center, sponsored by Amtrak®, and the FedEx Panda Express at the Great Meadow. Our new Amtrak® Wildlife Train Park will be on display inside the Asia Trail gift shop with an old-fashioned steam engine, Thomas the Train, and animal figurines. The FedEx Panda Express is a train that will take children on a fun ride around the Great Meadow beginning December 4. Every night of ZooLights, one lucky rider will get a “special delivery” gift from FedEx after riding the train. Train rides are $2.

Amtrak is a registered service mark of the National Railroad Passenger Corporation.

Stuff a Hippo Crate

This year the Zoo is helping make others’ holidays bright by stuffing a hippo crate with canned goods! Contribute by bringing canned goods to the hippo crate in front of the Great Cat gift shop. Donations will go to the Capital Area Food Bank.

Special Themed Nights

ZooLights offers a variety of entertainment groups and themed evenings.

December 21 FedEx Night Come to FedEx Night at ZooLights! The FedEx Special Delivery truck will be on hand with a special candy cane giveaway for our guests. Be sure to ride the FedEx Panda Express moving train ride, then stop by the FedEx truck for your free treat!
December 26 SunTrust Night Come to SunTrust Night at ZooLights! The first 500 people to visit the Great Cats and Panda Plaza gift shops will receive a backpack, courtesy of SunTrust Bank.

Panda Claws

Track our special ZooLights ambassador Panda Claws around the city. Be the first to snap a photo of him and post it to our Facebook page for a chance to win tickets to a major spring event at the Zoo. Learn more.

Panda Claws will also be available every night of ZooLights to greet children and guests and pose for photos.

Gin-GRR-Bread Habitat

Come to ZooLights on Friday, December 17, to see which amazing Gin-GRR-Bread Habitats won the contest.

Starbucks will be on hand from 7 to 8 p.m. inside the Visitor Center lobby to help celebrate our gingerbread contest. They will pass out free samples of Starbucks gingerbread lattes and other surprises. Pepco will celebrate the contest by giving away free gingerbread cookies featuring compact fluorescent light bulbs in frosting. Visit Pepco during their special energy talks at 6:30, 7, and 7:30 to receive your cookie! Learn more about the contest.

Holiday Shopping at ZooLights

All three Zoo gift shops will be open during ZooLights, allowing you to stock up on eco-friendly and Zoo-themed presents for everyone on your list.

Our Green Screen will be open in the Great Cat Shop. Get your photo taken against a winter backdrop. Browse the online store.

Pepco at ZooLights

Pepco will be on hand every night in Think Tank to discuss energy efficiency. On December 10, 11, 17, and 18, Pepco will give short talks about energy and electricity, followed by question-and-answer sessions, Talks will take place at 6:30, 7, and 7:30 p.m. After each talk, Pepco will raffle off a $50 Home Depot gift card to attendees.

A SCVNGR Trek at the Zoo: Play “A Conservation Carol” on your phone!

Don’t be a Scrooge! This holiday season, remember the spirit of conservation. Explore the light displays and be visited by the Goats of ZooLights past, present, and future. The more challenges you complete, the more points you will earn—both in the name of conservation and for a chance to win an exclusive VIP tour, including a visit with the keeper of your favorite animal. Ten runners-up will get ZooLights T-shirts.

To greet the first goat, text “ZooLights” to 728647 OR download the SCVNGR app on your iPhone or Android, click on “Treks,” and select the “Conservation Carol” Trek. Standi

SCVNGR Trek Scores
0 to 14 points You’re an Ebenezer: Better change your evil ways!
15 to 29 points You’re a work in progress: Sort of green but kinda mean.
30 to 42 points You’re a Conserveaholic: Keep up the good work making the world a better place.

Sponsor ZooLights

In addition to attending this sensational event, you can help sponsor it or sponsor a specific light display. Learn more.

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