Sunday, January 19, 2014

Wildlights at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium

This year marked the 25th year of Wildlights at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium! I visited the Zoo during the last week of Wildlights with Kenneth, my parents, my sister, Brittney, and her boyfriend, Cam. It was a wonderful evening full of gorgeous light displays and some adorable zoo animals!

Familiar zoo regions twinkled and sparkled with over three million lights - it really looked like a winter wonderland! We picked a great night to visit, there was still a bit of snow on the ground, but it wasn't too cold that we were rushing from one indoor exhibit to the next (that didn't stop me from wearing at least three layers though!). Since Kenneth and I have visited the zoo fairly often during our stay in Columbus, we acted as tour guides for our family, making sure they saw the best regions and all of our favorite animals. 

My favorite Wildlights feature was the Global Celebrations Village in Asia Quest. This was new this year and featured 192 flags and eight animatronic international carolers! 

The North American region of the zoo was decorated with blue, white and gold lights. I used the 'Handheld NightScene" setting on my camera to capture the lights. It also captures movement, so the other visitors look a little bit like ghosts (Dickens would approve!).

We visited My Barn to pet goats (they're so friendly!), saw a few reindeer, some moose and two hibernating Alaskan brown bears: Brutus and Buckeye!  

In Asia Quest we saw some of my favorite zoo animals - the Flying Fox BatPallas' Cat and Amur Tiger (all pictured below). I really loved the red, gold and purple lights in this region! The lights in the above photo were hung in the trees in the bundles they come in right out of the box. It made the trees look like giant fireflies were sitting in them - a unique and unexpected way to hang lights!

Even indoor exhibits, like Manatee Coast in the Shores region, got the holiday treatment with lights and decorations. The colorful lights gave the exhibit and warm and festive feeling as we watched manatees munch on bunches of lettuce.

The next three photos are of my favorite animals we saw at the zoo. Check out more photos in the slideshow at the end of this post! You can read about our September visit to the zoo here.

I have loved bats ever since I was a kid and my mom read Stellaluna by Janell Cannon to me (I'm still shocked when I meet someone who hasn't read this book - if you are one of these persons, please, read it now - it's such a great book!). Whenever Kenneth and I visit the zoo, he has to drag me away from the Flying Fox and Golden Mantled Bats. I'd stay there all day watching them, and they're usually just sleeping! The best part about visiting the zoo at night is that the bats are active! I watched in awe as the Flying Foxes walked on ropes from one end of their enclosure to the other to eat fruit or get into scuffles with one another (we saw a real smackdown between two Golden Mantled Bats - it appeared to be unprovoked!). The bats use their feet and their thumbs to 'walk' upside down on the ceiling of their enclosure - they move surprisingly quickly! We didn't see any of them fly - which would have been awesome, given how large their wings are (their wingspan can reach up to six feet!)!

The Pallas' Cat is so small and fluffy - she reminds me of our cats at home. In the wild Pallas' Cats are very elusive, and even at the zoo we don't always get to see this cat if she's sleeping out of sight. I was really excited that we got to see her! I think of her as the zoo's wild Grumpy Cat!  

This was the highlight of our visit to the zoo. Yes, the lights were beautiful and the music was lovely - but look at this cuddle puddle of baby tigers! These tiger cubs were born on March 22 and 23, 2013 to their mother Mara and father Foli. They are the second litter of Amur tigers to be born at the Columbus Zoo. They were adorable and there was a wait to get to the glass to even see them. My camera battery died after I took a photo of the Pallas' Cat so I borrowed Kenneth's phone for the remainder of the evening, including the photos I took of the Amur cubs!

Wildlights at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium is over for the 2013 holiday season - but be sure to check it out in November 2014!