Santa Safari at The Louisville Zoo

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I was granted tickets to attend this event in exchange for review.

This past weekend my 6 year-old son and I attended Santa Safari at The Louisville Zoo. We certainly got into the holiday spirit as we sang Christmas carols, ate homemade cookies baked by Mrs. Claus, and told Santa our Christmas gift wishes!

The annual event is held at the Louisville Zoo in the Gheens Room in the Islands indoor exhibit area. We arrived pretty early, and walked around the zoo for a little while. We ventured over to the Islands exhibit and looked at the bats and many birds in this area of the zoo. My son really loved the birds on this day! Next, we went into the exhibit area where the orangutan is and hung out with him for a while. He was really enamored with the children at the glass! This room is the waiting area for the event. For an additional small fee, your child can have their face painted or make sand art necklaces or jar art. Promptly on time, we were invited upstairs for the Santa pictures, meet-n-greet, and all of the other festivities. We were directed to assigned tables and started digging into the candy that was on the table and coloring a picture. Coffee, hot chocolate, and milk were available at a self-serve table.

Once everyone was seated, the elves, penguin, and Frosty walked around and say hi and take pictures. Mrs. Claus arrived a shortly after and brought in some delicious iced sugar snowman cookies. We ate cookies and worked on our scavenger hunt together, which was finding pictures related to 12 Days of Christmas that were hidden around the room. Mrs. Claus invited children to sit down on the floor near her and she read The Night Before Christmas to the audience. We then sang some Christmas carols with aid of the provided lyric sheets. The last song we sang was Santa Claus is Coming to Town, which ushered Santa into the room and he greeted everyone as he made his way to his chair.

After that, they passed out a foam snowman frame craft that we worked on while waiting for our turn to take pictures with Santa and chat with him about our Christmas gift wishes. My son really enjoyed the craft and the scavenger hunt! He also enjoyed seeing Santa and taking his picture. The zoo staff provides a souvenir printed photo of your child and Santa to take home.

The holiday festivities lasted about an hour; after that portion is over, children can continue their scavenger hunt throughout the zoo, finding the different stations and talking with zoo educators and volunteers about different animals. Children can take their Santa Safari passport to be stamped at each station in the indoor heated buildings. My son really loved learning more about the bats because he just wrote a story at school about a bat as a character and has become really interested in bats. He also enjoyed touching a sample of orangutan hair and sizing up his hand next to an orangutan’s.

This Christmas event at the zoo is interactive and engaging, and Santa looked great and spent a minute or two talking with each child. One child did not want to sit on his lap, so the child’s mother sat in the chair with her child and Santa got on the floor next to them, so she could still get her photo of her child with Santa. I loved that Santa was flexible and patient with children!

Santa Safari at the Louisville Zoo happens again on December 16 and 17 at 10am, noon, and 2pm. Ticket prices are $15.95 for zoo members ages 3 and older and $20.95 for non-members ages 3 and older. For children ages 2 and under, admission prices are $8.50 for zoo members and $11 for non-members.  You can find more information about tickets and purchase them online here.

By guest contributor: Erin

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