Nighttime Zoo Programming

NIGHTTIME zoos 567

Sleepy animals formerly seen napping in the daytime come out of their slumbering dens for a little night life. Zoo parks come alive featuring dramatic lighting and spectacular animal shows for their nighttime programming. There’s nothing like seeing something familiar during the day transform, quite literally, into party animals at night. Experience the unexpected at a nighttime zoo.

When to Visit a Nighttime Zoo


Los Angeles Zoo Zoo Lights

While nighttime zoos typically occur in the summer when the days are longer, some zoos also present family-friendly nighttime programs during the winter holidays. Be sure to check your local zoo calendar for nighttime events throughout the year. Note that special nighttime events can range from fine dining to themed sleepovers, but most activities start around dusk and last typically until nine or ten pm.

Creatures of the Night

SD Zoo Night
San Diego Zoo Jungle Bells

Nighttime zoo events and activities commonly feature animals that your family may not encounter during the day. Zoos such as Night Safari in Singapore present nocturnal animals exclusively, such as the koalas, leopards, lions, and tigers, making their nighttime superstars the centerpiece of the park. Most zoos host animals that are not displayed daily. During their nighttime events, they offer additional experiences beyond your basic animal encounters. For example, the San Diego Zoo houses cheetahs, but there is no official area to see the cheetahs in the daytime. During their nighttime programs, however, visitors will often find these cheetahs featured in their live shows.

What to Expect at a Nighttime Zoo

ABQ BioPark
ABQ BioPark


Enjoy the zoo in a new light with cooler evening weather, enhanced dining, beer and wine gardens, roaming entertainment, live music, and laser light show, all surrounded by wildlife and nature. There’s something for everyone including nighttime tours, music festivals, and sleepovers for the whole family to enjoy. Nighttime shows are high energy holding up to a higher entertainment value versus the standard daily show. Lines form early and seats fill up quickly. In Albuquerque, New Mexico, the Rio Grande Bio Park showcases a weekly Summer Nights Concert series mixing music, botanical garden, and wildlife for a memorable evening.


Restaurants include family-friendly kids meals, but look out for special items such as bento boxes and light-up souvenir drinks. During Roaring Nights at the Los Angeles Zoo, locally famed food trucks congregate to join in on the fun. This one is an adult-only fest including full bars and musical acts from indie bands and DJ’s.

Family Fun

Check out nighttime programming at your local zoo and peruse our list of favorite family-friendly Nighttime Zoos.  If traveling, make time to visit the park closest to your destination during the day and night; you’ll be getting a taste of two parks for the price of one!

Nighttime Zoo Programs Across the Country
About the author

Elizabeth Bickford is one of Trekaroo's Travel Experts. She's also is a mother of two little girls aged 6 and 4. They take pleasure in living in beautiful Southern California. As a family they enjoy traveling and taking time to explore as a family. They enjoy sharing their discoveries and providing insights on places to go and activities to try. Find her at My SoCal Travels

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