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The Reflection

Binder Park Zoo continues classic zoo tradition of Zoo Lights

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Binder Park Zoo is located in Battle Creek and closed for the regular season on October 8. The zoo gates will reopen for their official season on April 12. Photo by Zoe Teel

December 15 through the 23, Binder Park Zoo will celebrate the holiday season with Zoo Lights nightly 5 to 8:30 p.m. The event costs $5 with a zoo membership and $6 for general admission, while children age two and younger get in for free.

Due to the cold climate, the animals who are usually out in enclosures are not out for viewing, excluding the Mexican grey wolves. The reptiles, insects and sloths are inside all year round, so they are still available  to be seen.

To make up for absent animals, the park has created several animals made out of lights (see slideshow below). In addition to the Christmas light animals, the zoo uses lights to illuminate the paths.

“I would say we use a couple hundred thousand Christmas lights maybe, it’s not a ton like the Detroit Zoo or something where they have millions,” said Binder Park Zoo gift store manager Jen.

The carousel is decorated for the holiday season and features all sorts of zoo animals to ride on. Photo by Zoe Teel

The lights and Christmas decorations are the main attraction, but in addition, the zoo offers free carousel rides.

Binder Park Zoo offers a package where,  for $15  per kid and $20 per adult, the family can dine with Santa Claus. This special meal is only offered December 15, 16, 17, 22 and 23 from 5 -6 p.m. with reservations.

For families who still want to see Santa, but not pay the price of the meal, pictures with the man in red are available for $5 for 5×7 copy.

“We have a mailbox in front of the gift shop where kids can put their letters to Santa,” Jen said.

Children can write letters to Santa and even make Christmas crafts while enjoying the warmth.

Live animal presentations are conducted nightly at 5:30, 6:30 and 7:30. During these events the zookeepers give informational lectures on animals, including the mexican grey wolf, and if you’re lucky, you’ll be able to see a real live animal.

The concessions contribute to the Christmas theme by selling a red and green pudding cup, hot chocolate, brownie trees, funnel fries, rice krispies and caramel corn, which they do not usually offer.

In the spirit of Christmas, several organizations volunteer their time to help the event run smoothly and cut down on the employees Binder Park has to hire.

“We have a volunteer coordinator that works for the zoo and she kind of reaches out to people and organizes all of that,” Jen said.

Volunteers help run crafts and the activities that Santa is involved in. Hired workers still work the food section, maintenance, gift stores, and tickets, but most everyone else working the event is a volunteer.

As a final hurrah for Christmas activities there is DJ Dance Party and Ugly Sweater Contest from 5-8 p.m. as part of the event. There are activities like holiday themed games, prizes, dancing and karaoke that have no age limit.

Binder Park Zoo typically has about five thousand visitors during Zoo Lights, but according to Jen, the numbers are up this year.

For more information on the Zoo Lights click here.

SLIDE SHOW of the Zoo Lights

Created using Visme. Free Online Presentation Software.


Courtney Pedersen
About

My name is Courtney Pedersen and I'm a senior. For the Reflection I primarily write news and feature stories. I am the news and media editor. I also am heavily involved in TAB, PAC, Spanish Club and the literary magazine.

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