Celebrate the season with Cosley Zoo animals at annual Festival of Lights

Lights glowing in the night, depicting seasonal scenes, will illuminate Cosley Zoo during this year's Festival of Lights and Christmas Tree Sale beginning Nov. 24 and continuing through Dec. 31.

The zoo will be open daily from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. There is no admission fee during the festival; donations are encouraged. No reservations or ticketing for this event are required.

A special new feature, honoring the Canada lynx that arrived in 2022, will be the standout centerpiece of the light displays, measuring 12 feet tall and 30 feet wide.

In all, more than 20,000 lights will shine brightly beginning at 3 p.m. each day of the festival, sparkling on buildings and trees.

Shoppers looking for Christmas trees will find a variety of evergreens to choose from including Fraser, Canaan and Douglas firs along with Scotch pines. Trees come in all sizes, from three-foot-tall trees suitable for tabletop displays to 12-foot-tall trees that look majestic towering under cathedral ceilings.

Come shop among the animals in a festive atmosphere! Hot cocoa will be available for purchase, along with wreaths and garlands.

"The zoo is a welcoming place to celebrate the season with our resident animals. The light displays will shine brighter than ever, especially with the addition of our new lynx light show," said Sue Wahlgren, Cosley Zoo director.

Visitors will find additional holiday treasures inside the Wild Side Gift Shop. In addition to zoo-themed gifts, the shop will host the Wish Tree for the Animals. By purchasing an ornament, shoppers can give gifts to specific Cosley animals.

From 3 to 9 p.m. weekdays, hot chocolate will be sold at the Coyote Café concession stand. Hot chocolate sale hours on weekends and on Friday, Nov. 24, will be 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.

The zoo also will be hosting Santa's Craft Corner. At this event, children will have the opportunity to visit with Santa and work on craft projects. The dates for Santa's Craft Corner are Saturdays, Nov. 25, Dec. 2 and 9. Each event goes from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The fee is $20 per household payable at the door with cash, Visa, MasterCard and Discover. No advance registration is required.

All proceeds from these events support the zoo through the Cosley Foundation. The zoo will be closed on Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day and New Year's Day. The zoo will be open from 9 a.m. to noon on Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve.

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One of the new light displays at the annual Festival of Lights celebrates two of the newest zoo residents, the Canadian lynx that arrived in 2022. Courtesy of Cosley Zoo
Light displays dot the grounds of Cosley Zoo in Wheaton during its annual Festival of Lights. Courtesy of Cosley Zoo
A horse has some fun in the snow at Cosley Zoo in Wheaton. Courtesy of Cosley Zoo
Deer at Cosley Zoo in Wheaton sample some of the enrichment treats on a snowman. Courtesy of Cosley Zoo
A bobcat walks out into the snow of the bobcat enclosure at Cosley Zoo in Wheaton. Courtesy of Cosley Zoo
A coyote at Cosley Zoo in Wheaton Courtesy of Cosley Zoo
Cosley Zoo staff create a snowman full of enrichment treats for the raccoons. Courtesy of Cosley Zoo
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