Light up at the zoo

The Los Angeles Zoo revives a light show tradition for this Christmas season.

Monica Kochan, Writer

The Los Angeles Zoo and the Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association, or GLAZA, presents a new Christmas event this season — the L.A. Zoo Lights, a self-guided 60-90 minute tour taking guests on a journey through a Winter Wonderland of lights.


The Zoo lights offered a College Night, Thursday, Dec. 4. This event launched the show in the hopes that more guests of all ages would visit the zoo during the Christmas season.

While Laura Stegman, the PR representatives for GLAZA, said she was uncertain about the exact number in attendance, she thought that the night piqued some new interest from students.

Stegman mentioned that this marks the first holiday lights show in Griffith Park since the Griffith Lights Show discontinued in 2009 due to road repairs.

Councilmember Tom LaBonge, 4th district, who particularly supported the idea of reviving the lights show, worked with the city of Los Angeles and GLAZA to bring the show back to life.

“Together this concept was born, to have a holiday lights show, but very different from Griffith’s Holiday Light Show,” Stegman said. “This was designed very much centered around animals and really spectacular lighting effects and really an all-new, different experience.”

Stegman clarified that the “animals” are rendered in lights, projections, and other special effects, since most of the animals at the zoo sleep during the late night hours the show runs.


Art director Gregg Lacy and Bionic League, a lighting design company known for putting on events for Kanye West and Daft Punk among others, conceptualized and designed the show.

The concept of the show and the variety of animal characters visitors can expect to encounter along the way, which centers around a troop of monkeys who have rewired the zoo’s light system, Stegman said. After the monkeys plug in their own system, visitors follow them along their adventures in the zoo.

Along the way, various characters, such as Reggie the alligator, flamingos, origami rhino and even Santa Claus enthroned on faux ice surrounded by a Winter Wonderland, greet visitors.

Stegman expressed that Tom LaBonge worked with the city and GLAZA in order to reinstate a lights show in Griffith Park. This desire to maintain the tradition of the holiday lights show reflects in their finale.

“You walk through a lights tunnel. As you walk through the tunnel, you see this fantastic display,” Stegman said. “In that area, there are three or four pieces from the old DWP Lights Show, including the Hollywood sign.”


Stegman notes that they pay tribute to the old DWP Lights Show with these well-known pieces.

Guests will then be welcomed by a big, movie premiere by the animals they met earlier and encountered along the way. Visitors will encounter these animals walking the red-carpet while the troop of monkeys acts as the paparazzi.

Although they intend to keep the tradition of the Griffith Lights Show alive with the Zoo Lights, they also intend to create a brand new experience and begin a new holiday tradition.

Stegman, who works with television crews who cover the event, expresses that they have received good feedback from visitors.

“They all kind of talk about how this is such a lovely place to come together as a greater Los Angeles community,” said Stegman. “It’s an enjoyable place to come and enjoy the holidays, be around other people and really feel that sense of community.”

Stegman also explains that next year they would love to develop the College Night event more and introduce contests and add specific aspects for college students.

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