November 24, 2020

Night at the Zoo

Denver Zoo’s Nighttime Expert Shares Her Best Advice for a Fun and Comfortable Zoo Lights Experience 

By Disa Skaff, Night Keeper 


As a Denver Zoo night keeper, my nights are busy feeding, medicating, enriching, monitoring, and ensuring the comfort of all the animals around the entire Zoo. Nights at the Zoo are a unique experience that I feel lucky to have. There’s a sense of calm and quiet, only interrupted by the occasional lion roar or the sound of the sound of Nick the sea lion barking. Most nights it’s just me, security, and the animals, but Zoo Lights presented by Your Hometown Toyota Stores is a special time of year where I get to share Denver Zoo’s nighttime magic with our guests. I’ve worked during Zoo Lights for five years and consider myself more than qualified to pass along some expert tips to help you have a memorable and comfortable experience:  

Layer Up 

I’m talking long underwear, fleece-lined pants, multiple shirt layers under a sweatshirt, AND a heavy coat. Most importantly, don’t forget to cover your ears, nose, fingers, and toes. You’ll never regret that extra layer or pack of handwarmers – believe me! 

Stay in Motion 

Keep that blood flowing and those heat-generating muscles flexing. I choose to walk around the Zoo when I could zip around in a golf cart because constant movement keeps me warm. With 80 acres of lights to see, you have plenty of room to roam! Standing still is an open invitation for the cold to creep in, so keep moving!  

Warm Up Indoors 

I might be walking around the Zoo for hours each night, but I’m constantly ducking into heated buildings, so I’m not out in the cold for long periods of time. During Zoo Lights, we still have some buildings open where you can warm up and have the best chance of seeing animals. Topical Discovery and our giraffe barn are all open throughout the night. You’ll be amazed how different these habitats feel when the sun’s gone down! 

Go with the Flow 

We’ve curated a single path moving counter-clockwise around the Zoo to help you stay socially-distanced from other groups, and gives you the best angles to view the lights so you won’t miss anything. Stay on track, and when in doubt, follow the arrows we've painted on the ground. Zoo staff are all around the park if you need help.

Take a Perfect Selfie 

Zoo Lights is about making memories, but capturing the perfect moment can be tough when it’s dark out. You either end up with silhouettes or washed-out lights. My trick for getting everything you want in a picture is to forego the flash and use the Zoo Lights to illuminate your faces!  Be patient as you find the right angle! Not only will you be able to see everyone’s expressions of awe and the glowing lights behind you, but you’ll also probably be lit in fun colors. 

Zoo Lights is truly my favorite time to be working at Denver Zoo, and now you can experience it like a pro. And if you’re still cold, just warm up with a cup of our rich hot chocolate or tasty cider!  

Zoo Lights tickets are only available online and many nights sell out, so plan your visit and get your tickets now! 


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