It’s the time of year for twinkling light displays, and the zoo on the mountain once again is unveiling a doozy.
Cheyenne Mountain Zoo is celebrating its 28th year of Electric Safari, a holiday event featuring more than 85 light sculptures spread over 50 acres. The celebration of the season, popular with all ages, is open for 21 select days beginning Friday and running through Jan. 1.
“It’s become a Colorado Springs tradition, and I think it’s a great way to kick off the holiday season and get into the holiday spirit,” said Rachel Wright, zoo public relations manager. “Visitors enjoy just being around the magic of 50 acres of twinkling lights and experiencing a spectacular view of the city. One of the unique parts of checking out life at the zoo is our position and the view it provides.”
The grounds and maintenance crew need a full four months to install all the lights and prepare for the event, where visitors can stroll the light-bedecked zoo grounds, check out indoor animal exhibits including the elephant barn and monkey pavilion, watch animal demonstrations, snap a photo with Santa, feed giraffes and budgies, take the Sky Ride lift up the mountain for the sparkling city view (for an extra charge of $3 to $5), ride the carousel ($2), buy a snack and hot chocolate at one of the zoo cafes and cuddle at warming stations.
Nighttime animal encounters such as Otter or Amur Tiger Enrichment and keeper talks on elephants or lions vary by day. See the website for a schedule.
“During the animal enrichments, zookeepers do some sort of activity with the animal. For example, the Amur tigers have a big barrel they’ll roll,” Wright said.
To prevent overcrowding, the zoo limits the number of attendees each night. Wright advises buying tickets online ahead of time, which will save $2 and guarantee a spot. Zoo members have the added bonus of early admission (4:30 p.m. daily). While members’ entrance is free, they are advised to reserve their free tickets online.
“Also, Santa and Mrs. Claus will be here through Dec. 23. Bring your own camera and get a free picture with them. It’s a fun thing if you’re saying hello to the giraffes and the lions to say hi to Santa, too,” Wright said.
MICHELLE KARAS, THE GAZETTE, MICHELLE.KARAS@GAZETTE.COM