L.A. ZOO LIGHTS WINS USA TODAY'S "10 BEST ZOO LIGHTS" READERS CHOICE AWARD FOR SECOND


L.A. ZOO LIGHTS WINS USA TODAY'S "10 BEST ZOO LIGHTS" READERS CHOICE AWARD FOR SECOND CONSECUTIVE YEAR L.A. Zoo Lights is Open through Sunday, January 8, 2017 (except December 24 and 25) and Features a Newly-Added HOLIDAY HAPPY HOUR on December 20 and FAMILY NEW YEAR'S EVE Party on December 31 6 to 10 pm Nightly Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens

L.A. ZOO LIGHTS wins USA Today's "10 BEST ZOO LIGHTS" Readers Choice Award for the second consecutive year, as it tops the Southland's "holiday must" destination list with more lights and more nights of dazzling magic through Sunday, January 8, 2017, 6 to 10 pm, under the stars at the L.A. Zoo. USA Today editors and 10Best experts picked the initial 20 nominees, and the 10Best winners were determined by popular vote. L.A. ZOO LIGHTS, in its third year, moved up to #9 from its #10 place in 2015.

In "ZooLAbration" of the Zoo's 50th Anniversary, L.A. Zoo Lights sets the Zoo aglow in wonder and delight with a fanciful menagerie of animal characters brought to "life," LED lights by the thousands, giant illuminated snowflakes, a "red-carpet" 50th Anniversary party celebrating the Zoo's Golden Year complete with snowfall, a disco ball forest, glittering twinkle tunnels, stunning 3-D animated projections, and much more. Guests this year enjoy a range of breathtaking new features, among them a laser show set to music boasting majestic screens of water with projections of fanciful animation, a shadow wall perfect for playful photo-ops and a new waterfall feature in the Children's Zoo. Inside the LAIR, guests are bathed in ultraviolet light for a black light party with scurrying "insects" above the rock walls. L.A. Zoo Lights 2016 also presents a FAMILY NEW YEAR'S EVE for all ages on December 31, and due to popular demand, a third Holiday Happy Hour with KCRW takes place on Thursday, December 20, including drinks and nosh.

An instant hit since its 2014 debut, L.A. Zoo Lights captivates guests for an ideal family outing, meet-up with friends or date night with self-guided 60- to 90-minute walking tour through select areas of the Zoo. While most animal residents are asleep, visitors can view the LAIR's amphibians, invertebrates and reptiles as well as enjoy the only opportunity in Los Angeles to see a real reindeer family comprised of two adults and two adorable babies. A glittering snow-covered setting for photos with Santa Claus, available for an additional fee now through December 23, captures holiday memories, and the Zoo's hand-crafted Tom Mankiewicz Conservation Carousel is open during L.A. Zoo Lights, with $3 per person on-site tickets. L.A. Zoo Lights has attracted nearly 350,000 people over a two-year span, a vast number of whom consumed some 10,000 gallons of steaming hot chocolate and more than 30,000 irresistible churros in 2015. The aforementioned goodies and other seasonal treats and light-themed souvenirs are available for sale.

Established by the private, non-profit Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association (GLAZA) as a festive annual tradition, LA Zoo Lights 2016/17 celebrates not only the Zoo's 50th anniversary but also its important role as an international leader in the preservation of endangered species, a conservation center for the care and study of wildlife and a special place for people of all ages in the world's entertainment capital.

FAMILY NEW YEAR'S EVE on Saturday, December 31, 6 pm, provides an opportunity to celebrate the coming of 2017 in style with "skip-the-line" express entry to L.A. Zoo Lights, dinner buffet, soft drinks, complimentary champagne for adults, sparkling apple cider for kids, dessert, a ride on the conservation carousel, games, DJ dance party, cash bar and live broadcast of New York's Times Square ball drop at 9 pm, after which guests are welcome to experience L.A. Zoo Lights until closing at 10 pm. FAMILY NEW YEAR'S EVE tickets are $69 for adults and $45 for children, or $64 (adults) and $40 (children) for GLAZA members. Tickets for this "VIP Experience" has limited availability, so early purchase is strongly suggested. Sponsors of L.A. Zoo Lights include Service Systems Associates, 99 Cents Only Stores, Lyft, metroPCS, and Paramount.

The landmark Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens, drawing 1.75 million visitors each year, is home to a diverse collection of 1,100 animals representing 250 different species, many of which are rare or endangered, as well as a botanical collection comprising over 800 different plant species with approximately 7,000 individual plants. Accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), whose members meet rigorous professional standards for animal welfare, the Zoo has achieved renown as an international leader in the preservation of endangered species and a conservation center for the care and study of wildlife. The L.A. Zoo's lush grounds on 113 acres feature Rainforest of the Americas, an extraordinary collection of endangered and exotic mammals, reptiles, fish and amphibians living in spaces that exemplify their natural habitat in the rainforest biosphere; Chimpanzees of Mahale Mountains, home to one of the largest troops of chimpanzees in the United States; Red Ape Rain Forest, where visitors can walk among orangutans; the LAIR (Living Amphibians, Invertebrates, and Reptiles); Elephants of Asia; Campo Gorilla Reserve; and one of the largest flocks of flamingos in any zoo in the world. Among other highlights are an extraordinary, hands-on Hippo Encounter; the Winnick Family Children’s Zoo and Muriel's Ranch animal contact area; the Tom Mankiewicz Conservation Carousel; a variety of daily opportunities to learn more about animals, including close-up visits, special feedings and intriguing talks; and much more. The private, non-profit Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association (GLAZA), which has supported the Zoo in partnership with the City of Los Angeles for more than five decades and provides funding for and operates seven essential Zoo departments, has 60,000 member households representing more than 240,000 adults and children. As evidence of the Zoo's popularity, GLAZA attracts one of the largest membership bases of any cultural organization in Los Angeles.

Prices for admission to L.A. Zoo Lights vary and start at $14 for adults and $11 for children ages 2 to 12. GLAZA members enjoy ticket discounts of up to 33%. Children under age 2 are free. This year's new unlimited-access L.A. Zoo Lights Season Pass, with express entry privileges nightly, is $49 for adults and $44 for children ages 2 to 12. Tickets for FAMILY NEW YEAR'S EVE are $69 for adults and $45 for children ages 2 to 12, or $64 (adults) and $40 (children) for GLAZA members. Tickets for HOLIDAY HAPPY HOUR are $75 per person and open only to ages 21 and up. All L.A. Zoo Lights events and evenings take place on a "rain-or-shine" basis, with no rain checks issued. Visit LAZoolights.org for details and to purchase tickets.

The Los Angeles Zoo is located in Griffith Park at the junction of the Ventura (134) and Golden State (5) freeways. Free parking is available. 5333 Zoo Drive, Los Angeles, CA 90027, (323) 644-4200. For additional information about L.A. Zoo Lights, call 866-949-8007; call center hours are 8 am to 8 pm, seven days a week. For tickets and more, visit LAZoolights.org

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