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ZooLights archway, photo courtesy of the National Zoo

The National Zoo’s third annual ZooLights opens this Friday. Zoo officials and special guests will flick the switch to light more than 50 LED sculptures along the zoo’s pathways in a lighting ceremony at 6 P.M.

The ZooLights sculptures take the shape of Asian elephants, octopus, golden lion tamarins, zebras, leopards, eagles, even kori bustards. And to add to last year’s cast of characters, there will be stingrays, squirrels, orangutans and chameleons.

The event takes place from 6 to 8:30 p.m. every Friday through Sunday until December 13 and then every night (except Dec. 24, 25 and 31) from December 18-January 2. Tickets are $8 per person, $5 for FONZ members.

There are over 50 light sculptures. Photo courtesy of the National Zoo.

Here is a listing of special evenings, when ticket prices may vary:

Military Nights – December 6, 11, 13, 20-23, 27-30 and January 1

  • Members of the military, their spouses and children get in free when they show a military ID.

Giant ZOOTRITION Night, sponsored by Giant Food – December 12

  • Visitors receive a special gift from Giant Food and can partake in a scavenger hunt through four zoo buildings. Also, there will be special presentations by the zoo’s nutrition staff on how they prepare animal diets.

Date Night – December 18

  • Bring a date to the zoo and enjoy hot cocoa, kettle corn and other treats as you stroll through the display.

Hair Cuttery Night – December 26

  • Listen to special presentations by zoo staff on how and why they groom animals, and enter to win a gift package from Hair Cuttery.

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