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Celebrate the Season with the magic of wildlife and Santa Claus at ZooTampa

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…in the Wild! ZooTampa at Lowry Park has transformed once again into a world of holiday cheer for Christmas in the Wild!

The event celebrates its fourth year as one of Tampa Bay’s most beloved holiday traditions. The festivities kicked off on Black Friday, Nov. 23 and continue for 18 delightful nights.

2018 Dates: Nov. 23, 24, 30 and Dec. 7, 8, 14, 15, 16, 20, 21, 22, 23, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30

Families will experience a merry and memorable evening and immerse themselves in the spirit of the season. From the stunning sights of thousands of twinkling lights, delectable seasonal holiday treats and refreshments, to the wonder and enchantment of wildlife at night – the event offers guests of all ages a whimsical holiday experience.  

Jolly St. Nick and his playful elves will return to Santa’s Village. Parents will have the opportunity to make reservations to ensure they don’t miss the “big guy in red” before he returns to the North Pole. Visiting Santa in his workshop is included with the event and Zoo members can make a reservation starting at 3 p.m. Families can enjoy the festivities and receive a text message when it’s their time to tell Santa their Christmas wish.  

Family favorites return including festive entertainment with carolers dressed in Dickens era costumes performing traditional classics as well as contemporary favorites, and holiday story time with Mrs. Claus. Guests will be mesmerized by a 50-foot Christmas tree complete with 12,000 dancing lights, 2,000 ornaments and an 8-foot star! Other holiday themed areas include Holiday Hoedown, Polar Paradise and Candy Cane Lane. 

Wildlife will also get into the holiday spirit with special themed activities including Presents for Primates and Ornaments & Elephants. Guests will have the opportunity to have a close look at African penguins and may catch a glimpse of some adorable Zoo babies. The popular “A Present for Hazel” a holiday themed animal show returns, featuring our famous animal ambassadors.  

The scents and tastes of holiday treats and refreshments will resonate throughout the Zoo. The Zoo’s Head Chef, Itza Henderson, has once again created an innovative menu to satisfy every foodie’s palate. An array of Instagram-worthy items are available including a Sugarplum Fairy Float and mini apple cider donuts. Savory dishes include slow smoked ribs with a cranberry BBQ glaze, a Grinch Dog, an amazing holiday burger and more. For those craving something sweet, there’s a variety of decadent desserts to indulge in from a selection of gourmet hot chocolates, peppermint mousse and deconstructed apple pie. Moms and dads can add some spice to the evening with a peppermint martini or hot toddies.  

‘Tis the season for giving. Guests can finish their holiday shopping with unique gifts that support the Zoo’s mission of conservation. Avoid the mall frenzy with the ultimate present that keeps on giving joy throughout the year – a Zoo membership. Other special gift ideas include animal encounters and animal adoptions.  

Christmas in the Wild takes place on select nights in November and December. A variety of admission values are available online at or at the Zoo’s front gate.  

Check out our growing list of MORE Holiday Events in Tampa Bay and beyond!

Laura Byrne
Laura Byrne is an award-winning former television news journalist who spent 15+ years in newsrooms across the state of Florida including Sarasota, Tallahassee, Fort Myers and right here in Tampa Bay where she still freelances on occasion. She covered the political beat, crime beat and every day breaking news during her time in Florida newsrooms, but is now focused on sharing positive news stories and events with families in Tampa Bay. She is a proud mommy of two little boys who keep her on her toes and laughing every day. Her goal is to inspire families just like yours to get out and play and experience all that Tampa Bay and our great state of Florida have to offer! She encourages you to share your stories and upcoming events so we can spread the good news.

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