Night holiday event showcases zoo

CNJ staff photo: Benna Sayyed Hillcrest Park Zoo Director Vince Romero, left, shows his daughter Olivia holiday decorations displayed at Hillcrest Park Zoo. The decorations are part of the Christmas Nites at the Zoo event Tuesday through Saturday from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Benna Sayyed

Donna Wilson is taking her granddaughter to the Hillcrest Park Zoo’s Christmas Nites at the Zoo event for the third time this year. She said the zoo inhabitants are more active after the sun goes down.

“I love taking my granddaughter to the zoo after dark so she can see what animals are like after dark,” said Wilson, a speech therapist for Clovis schools and board member of the Clovis Parks and Recreation Department.

Christmas Nites at the Zoo is a way for the city to show its appreciation to the community for donations and patronage.

“This is something people can look forward to every year,” said Vince Romero, Hillcrest Park Zoo director. “They can bring their kids and see some of the animals in the lights. This gives people something to do rather than just stay home and watch TV.”

Wilson hopes this year’s event will have more holiday lighting so children can have an easier time viewing the animals.

The 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. event starts today and runs through Saturday. It will offer the following:

• Free admission

• Free hot chocolate and coffee

• Christmas carol karaoke for children and adults

• Free 30-minute tour of the city on CATS buses to view holiday lights. Tour will run today and Wednesday at 6 p.m.

• Pictures with Santa and his staff of elves

The event will cover a small portion of the zoo, starting with the hyenas in the front and ending with the bobcats. Other animals on display include alligators, primates, tigers, cougars and birds.

Christmas lighting will run throughout the event portion of the zoo. Romero said folks will be able to enhance their light viewing experience by purchasing a pair of 3-D glasses for a dollar.

According to Romero, Santa Claus will be out and about distributing candy to children. Romero said the karaoke is a favorite of children. Zoo officials advise folks to bring their own cameras since the zoo will not have a photographer for the occasion.

Romero said an activity called Christmas ducks allows children and people with disabilities to choose from a pool of small rubber ducks to receive a candy prize.

Romero said zoo animals will receive presents from Santa before Christmas in the form of extra fruit and vegetables for herbivores and meat for carnivores.