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Zoo News Blog

It’s Beginning to Look A Lot Like Zoo Lights

‘Tis the season for TXU Energy Presents Zoo Lights at the Houston Zoo. This holiday spectacular features sparkling LED lights, twinkling replicas of zoo animals, the return of Candy the Zoo Lights Zebra presented by H-E-B, and a 33-foot-tall, glittering Holiday Tree presented by TransCanada. This year, Zoo Lights opens one hour earlier, with guests able to enter at 5 p.m.

From Nov. 17 through Jan. 13, the Houston Zoo is transformed into a winter wonderland, and one of Houston’s most well-loved holiday traditions. Guests will sip hot chocolate as they stroll through the beautiful Houston Zoo grounds and take in the sights and sounds of the season. Fifteen miles of earth-friendly LED lighting illuminate the zoo’s historic oak trees and decorate the paths to light the way.

Opening just in time for the event is the fully re-imagined Cypress Circle Café, right in the heart of it all. This conscientious café will focus on providing locally sourced, sustainable fares. The signature pizza and bowls will change seasonally and will start with a white pizza called The White Pie Affair, which pairs a creamy alfredo base with garlic, grilled chicken, wild mushrooms and broccoli. The bowl will be a couscous bowl with cilantro-lime Israeli couscous, charred poblano corn relish, pico de gallo, cotija cheese, and blackened chicken. Holiday revelers can also make s’mores and snack on house-made kettle corn and other holiday treats.

For the first time in Zoo Lights history, Santa is stopping by to take photos with families on select nights. Guests can line up to get a photo made and share their holiday wishes with the Big Guy most nights inside Twiga Café.

Zoo Lights sights include a Texas-themed area presented by Texas Direct Auto, as well as an animal Watering Hole presented by Texas Capital Bank. Other features include the Holiday Train Village presented by Macy’s, and the Enchanted Forest presented by King & Spalding LLC.

During the nightly event, the zoo animals settle down for their long winter’s nap, and the star attraction is the lights. To see the zoo’s animals, guests are encouraged to visit the Houston Zoo during regular daytime hours.

TXU Energy Presents Zoo Lights is a separately-ticketed event, held daily starting at 5:00 p.m. The zoo closes for the day at 4:00 p.m. and re-opens as TXU Energy Presents Zoo Lights at 5:00 p.m. On Prime nights, the event will stay open until 11 p.m. For more information, including nights of operation, or to purchase tickets, visit

  • $12.95             Value Nights, Member
  • $17.95             Value Nights, Non-Member
  • $17.95             Prime Nights, Member
  • $22.95             Prime Nights, Non-Member

LED Lights Help Wildlife

  • The Houston Zoo saves wildlife by only using energy-saving LED lights during TXU Energy Presents Zoo Lights. The LED lights are using 85% less power than incandescent lights, allowing the Houston Zoo to conserve lots of energy.
  • Tons of holiday lights end up in landfills which spill over into animals’ natural homes. To help cut down on this waste, the Houston Zoo has recycled more than 12,826 pounds of holiday lights to date. Everyone can save wildlife by recycling broken or old holiday lights at the Houston Zoo throughout Zoo Lights. From Nov. 17 –Jan. 13 guests can bring in unwanted strings of holiday lights to help protect wildlife. Save money on electricity bills and save wildlife by using LED lights at home.

Specialty Nights

Sensory-friendly Night is back on Nov. 26. This night is designed for guests with sensory sensitivities and their families. On this night, guests can expect a smaller crowd, quieter music, limited flashing lights, and two designated quiet areas.

Additional specialty nights include Military Mondays (code: Military18) on Dec. 3, 10 and 17 and First Responder Tuesdays  (code: Responder18) on Dec. 4, 11, and 18. During these evenings, members of the military and first responders can enter for only $12 when they buy online and show their professional ID at the gate.

This year, College Student Wednesdays (code: College18) on Dec. 5 and 12 give Texas college students $12 admission when they purchase online and show student IDs at the gate.

Educator Thursdays (code: Educator18) on Dec. 6, 13, 20 give teachers, school administrators and other educators a $12 admission when they book online and show their educator ID.