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November 27, 2017

Lowry Park Zoo’s Christmas in the Wild returns in 2017 with more lights and surprises!

By Tampa Bay Parenting

CHRISTMAS IN THE WILD RETURNS WITH MORE LIGHTS AND JOLLY SURPRISES : The Wild Family Tradition is Back at TLPZ! 

So, we’ve all been there; it’s December and your kids are out of school and extended family is visiting. How are you going to entertain everyone? It’s difficult to find something that appeals to my entire family, spanning from my kindergartener to my teenager to grandmother, while choosing an option that’s unique enough to be memorable and not some cookie cutter holiday event. 

Related: Tampa Bay Parenting’s Favorite Holiday Events in Tampa Bay

And so we came up with the concept for Christmas in the Wild at Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo. The Zoo will transform once again into a world of winter wonder. For 18 delightful nights, guests of all ages will experience a merry and memorable evening with this unique, yet traditional holiday event. From the sights of stunning lights, the seasonal smells of holiday treats, the excitement of enchanting entertainment and the magic of wildlife at night, it’s truly an immersive holiday experience. 

As Christmas lights begin to twinkle, guests can glimpse the nighttime habits of animals and discover which nocturnal creatures are most active. Animals have been carefully and safely acclimated so that habitats in the Asian and African realms of the zoo, along with Primate World, are illuminated for night viewing. Returning this year on select nights, guests can experience “Presents for Primates” enrichment and special holiday animal care chats. New this year, families can enjoy a Christmas-themed animal show featuring our famous brand ambassadors.  

More merriment awaits this year with returning family favorites like joyful stilt walkers, harmonious carolers, delectable holiday dishes and cocktails, festive music and wild gifts at the holiday shop. New this year, guests will be enchanted by the dancing lights of our 50-foot animated Christmas tree complete with 2,000 ornaments, 12,000 lights and an 8-foot star! 

The big guy in red will return to Santa’s Village and is excited to meet all the families of Tampa Bay! Also, debuting this year is a whimsical elf village full of seasonal trinkets and keepsakes. Guests can now make text reservations to ensure they don’t miss jolly St. Nick before he goes back to the North Pole.  

Other holiday themed areas include “Holiday Hoedown – A Country Christmas,” where traditional colors and Christmas decorations adorn the farm presenting a festive, jovial atmosphere. Guest will tap their feet to the playful tune of a live country band while enjoying a warm cup of hot apple cider putting all in the Christmas Spirit! In “Polar Paradise, a Frozen World of Water, Light, and Ice,” our African tunnel will transform into a winter wonderland showcasing snow and dancing snowflakes. Guest can twirl in falling snow and enjoy the frozen waterscapes of light. Families will also celebrate the sounds of the season in “Candy Cane Lane,” a peppermint wonderland with live entertainment.  

Famous for unique cuisine, the Zoo’s Head Chef Itza Henderson has created a menu to satisfy every foodie’s taste buds. Savory dishes include braised short rib with smoked Gouda mac and cheese to S’mores bacon to a Holiday burger complete with bacon, cranberry relish, shaved Brussel sprouts and feta cheese. For those with a sweet tooth, get ready to indulge in decadent desserts: We’ve got a gourmet selection of hot chocolates, peppermint mousse and deconstructed apple pie. And for those looking to spice up the night a little more, mixologists at the Zoo have created custom cocktails including peppermint martinis, frozen hot chocolate martini and spiked apple cider. Get your appetites ready – you can only taste these dishes at Christmas in the Wild!  

Related: Unforgettable Connections at Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo

Christmas in the Wild will take place Friday and Saturdays Nov.  24-25, Dec. 1-2, 8-10, 15-17, 21-23 and 26-30. The Zoo will remain open late on select nights. A variety of admission options are available online at TLPZ.org or at the Zoo’s front gate: 

  • Pay for a day – and visit the rest of this year and all of 2018   
  • Free and unlimited entry with Zoo Membership 
  • A special “After 4 p.m.” ticket on event days for $24.95 (ages 3 and up). 

 ‘Tis the season for giving, and by attending Christmas in the Wild, guests are helping support the Zoo’s mission to rescue, rehabilitate and care for animals. We hope that Christmas in the Wild becomes an annual holiday tradition for your family. When the Zoo and Christmas come together, it also brings families together – and those are memories you’ll cherish forever. Happy holidays, from our Zoo family to yours!  

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