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posted: 11/25/2012 6:13 AM

Cosley Zoo shines holiday lights on new attractions

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  • Cosley Zoo's Festival of Lights opens Nov. 23 and continues through December.

    Cosley Zoo's Festival of Lights opens Nov. 23 and continues through December.
    Courtesy of Wheaton Park District

By Julie Eakins
Wheaton Park District

The lights will shine brighter than ever this year at Cosley Zoo's Festival of Lights, in celebration of a few dazzling new additions to the family destination at 1356 N. Gary Ave., Wheaton.

Named the Best Small Zoo in the Chicago area by Chicago magazine, the zoo boasts enhancements that include a new butterfly garden, improvements to the aviary and a newly constructed amphitheater, as well as a specially designed habitat for two North American bobcats.

"The bobcat exhibit re-creates a natural habitat," said Arthur Pape, president of the Cosley Foundation board. "It's a whole new level for Cosley Zoo."

Admission to the zoo is free for all visitors during Cosley's Festival of Lights, which continues through New Year's Eve. The festival is open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., daily with the lights coming on at 3 p.m. The zoo will close at noon Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve and will be closed all day on Christmas.

Last year, more than 12,000 local residents toured the zoo during the festival. Guests can visit with the animals while enjoying thousands of twinkling lights and dozens of trees hand-decorated trees by area Scout, school and church groups. Hot chocolate, stocking stuffers and holiday decorations -- including freshly cut Christmas trees -- are for sale.

During the festival, the zoo also offers Santa's Craft Corner from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays, Dec. 1 and 8. Children are invited to visit with Santa and make a craft. Cookies and punch or a warm drink are shared. A $3 per person donation is suggested and there is a $3 fee for a printed photo with Santa.

For details, contact or (630) 665-5534.