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Review: Columbus Zoo lights keeps annual tradition fresh, dazzling

Andrew Holleran / Photo editor

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For Ohio State students who are looking for a distraction from finals, there is no better holiday escape than the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium’s Wildlights. I ventured into the cold this weekend and was dazzled by the zoo’s 3 million lights and holiday decorations. The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium has hosted Wildlights for almost 25 years, and despite having visited numerous times, it never fails to impress me.
The lights show near the zoo’s entrance is synchronized with music, and the reflection on the lake creates the perfect atmosphere for a date night out. I needed two hands to count the number of couples having their photographs taken in front of the lake, and I’ve already witnessed the photo dump onto Facebook of nauseatingly cute profile pictures.
Tickets for Wildlights are still regular admission prices, and at $15 a person can be a little expensive on a college student’s budget. D-Tix, through the Ohio Union, releases tickets for $5 with a BuckID, and made my date night much more cost-effective.
If you are brave enough to face the weather and cold, be prepared to layer. Hot chocolate is key, and lines at the numerous Tim Hortons stands throughout the zoo were consistently long. The zoo was crowded, and I found myself dodging strollers and leashed children more than once.
Although the lights are a beautiful sight on their own, the zoo offers a rare experience in viewing the animals at night. Indoor exhibits were the most popular, and crowded, with moderately long lines to enter the indoor elephant exhibit, aquarium and reptile house.
Despite the warm sanctuary of indoor exhibits, the most exciting part of the evening was being able to see the two Amur tiger cubs, born at the Columbus Zoo last June. Although I assumed that it was far past their bedtime, I’m sure the bright spotlights into their exhibit weren’t very conducive to their sleep schedule. They chased each other around the exhibit, and their playful fighting kept the large crowd of spectators interested.
While the entire outing was a battle with traffic and crowds, it was well worth the wait and trouble. The spectacle of seeing thousands of trees decorated to perfection and exotic animals would have been worth the full cost of admission, and if you’re looking for a moment of sanity outside of studying, the Columbus Zoo’s Wildlights is a perfect choice.

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