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PTR: Columbus Zoo's Boo at the Zoo

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'Tis the season for pumpkins, cider, and begging strangers for candy. Sure, sending your kids door-to-door to ask for free treats can be a little discomforting, but it's a time honored tradition and loads of fun for the little one. We packed up our little one, Avery, and headed to the Columbus Zoo on Saturday for their first (of two) weekend of Boo! at the Zoo.


Believe it or not, even as Columbus Zoo members, this was our first time at this particular event, and I couldn't have been more taken back with how well done it was. First, this isn't an upcharge: Pay your normal $12 (adult) admission for the zoo and the rest is included. You're handed an event-specific map which notates special candy stops (about 30 of them around the park!), seasonal concession offerings (s'mores, candy / carmel apples, cider, etc), and special entertainment offerings (several new stage shows, roaming characters, parade, etc). The map also lists the special "Boo at the Zoo" animal enrichment times and keeper talks. There were events around the zoo about every half hour, like pumpkins being given to the animals (which is hilarious to watch, including brown bears, polar bears, manatees, gorillas, arctic fox, etc). The roaming characters, from Otterbein University's theater department, brought a nice dose of period streetmosphere to the park. Several other live entertainment offerings were available, including a Marvel-licensed Superhero stage show, storytime with Princesses, and the zoo's awesome "Animals on Safari" stage show.


While the event is billed as "merry, not scary", the zoo's train ride in the North America region is transformed after dark into a "Sleepy Hollow" themed experience, utilizing live actors, fog, and theatrical lighting.


So, here's how it works: The 30 or so treat stations are spread out throughout the entire park, each sponsored by a different business and handing out free candy (generous handfulls, while we were there at least), as well as different things for their business (dentist giving parents gift cards for free whitening, etc). We didn't hit all the stations, and Avery still came away with tons of candy (we had to empty her bucket 2 or 3 times).


Beyond the event-specific activities, there's still a world class (#1 in the country, they say) zoo to explore. The animals were all very active (a beautiful day, sunny and in the high 50's), and we didn't notice a single "no show." All the animals were out and having fun. Some animal highlights: one of the pods in the indoor gorilla exhibit had 3 apes in it sound asleep, while Coco (first gorilla born in captivity, now a great grandmother!) was in her pod enjoying a pumpkin. One of the lion cubs born a few years ago was being "weaned" away from his parents, being put in the second lion yard for 4 hours each day. There was a docent there to explain this, as the cat seemed very agitated and was pacing the yard's perimeter. We got to see Bodhi the male Asian Elephant one last time, he was the first elephant calf born at the zoo but is now going to Denver's Zoo to breed.


Boo at the Zoo continues next weekend from 10AM to 9PM (unusually late hours for the zoo outside of the Christmastime Wildlight's event), with Jungle Jack's Landing and Animal Encounters Village open as well. All day ride wristbands are available for only $5, which is a steal considering the lineup of rides and non-existent lines. I seriously, completely recommend anyone with kids try to make this event next weekend. The themeing, the atmosphere, and the animals create quite a unique offering and you won't regret it.


It amazes me, as a native Ohioan, to see the same level of quality, value, themeing, and escapism I used to find at Kings Island at the Columbus Zoo.


Onto the pics:

Getting ready to head in! (We had just put her costume on in the parking lot, coming straight from her gymnastics class)





The lineup of Treat Stations in Jungle Jack's Landing










Sonic's Wheel-O-Goodies (we won a burger and some drinks)


The scale of this pirate ship was impressive, especially considering it's just a decoration!


This is NOT one of the Leopards rescued from the farm in Zanesville, those animals are in the zoo's animal hospital



Naptime in the gorilla building!





Proud of her loot!




Even the manatees got treated with some pumpkins in their tank



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Awesome Photo TR. I have always wanted to visit the Columbus Zoo. I have heard its one of the best in the world. I would love to see more pics if you have them. Who is the guy in the 10tv coat? I m guessing its your husband. Does he work for the station. I always watch it for my news!

I'm the guy in the 10TV coat, I work there.


Here are 2 other PTR's I've done on the Columbus Zoo, Jungle Jack's Landing, and Zoombezi Bay:




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