The zoo lights up for the holidays

The zoo lights reflect the holiday season with themes of Christmas. The event is happening every night until Dec. 26, 2021. Hours may vary.

Guests were dazzled at the Topeka Zoo Nov. 19 for the opening night of the annual Topeka Zoo Lights. The event brought in several people of all ages excited to admire the glittering trees and animal-themed lights, courtesy of Evergy Electric Service Company.
There are plenty of perfect photo opportunities with light-up tunnels, neon Christmas signs and animal-shaped lights complimenting the different habitats within the zoo. One of the popular destinations for kids is the ocean-themed walk-through with a neon shark, fish and crab-shaped lights, handmade coral reefs and dangling seaweed.
A new exhibit this year for the event is the reindeer. Guests can have a close encounter with Santa’s helpers as they learn about reindeer from Adventure Trail Keepers. Brad York, one of the adventure zookeepers, taught onlookers about the reindeer.
“We decided that ‘Hey, let’s spruce up zoo lights this year and get some reindeer’,” York said. “They are on loan from Santa, so they aren’t ours. They are just getting some training here, learning how to be reindeer and getting used to people.”
To combat the chilly night and find a little more enjoyment in the festivities, the zoo offers hot chocolate and snacks guests can buy. Attendees also have the chance to get a free photo with Santa in his sleigh or enjoy time with the family in one of the translucent igloos set up around the enclosure.
“It’s great! It’s a good time to have some hot chocolate, have some family laughs and enjoy the lights and just start off the holiday season,” said Debbie Major, who attended the event with her family.
To finish out the night, take a stroll along the Japanese pond to see the intricate dragon and koi fish light display. It is located near the entrance of the zoo.
The Zoo Light event is running Sunday through Thursday from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. as well as Friday and Saturday from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. until Dec. 26. The event is open to the public on Christmas from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Admission for children under 12 is $7 and adult tickets are $10. Tickets are currently being sold online at

Edited by: Simran Shrestha, Kyle Manthe