Christmas Tradition: GPZ prepares for Zoo Lights and Nights, Holiday Express

A Western Lowland Gorilla enjoys a snack Tuesday in their exhibit at Gladys Porter Zoo. The Zoo’s new GoFundMe campaign is intended to help staff to continue to provide the enrichment, food and medical care the animals need during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Denise Cathey/ The Brownsville Herald)

Gladys Porter Zoo will hold its annual Zoo Nights and Lights, although it will be different this year because of the coronavirus.

There won’t be an arts and crafts section and there probably won’t be a Santa Claus, but there will be plenty of lights and music to spread some holiday cheer.

The lights will be displayed around the zoo. Collete Adams, the zoo’s deputy director, said officials decided to have this year’s Zoo Nights and Lights at the last minute because they wanted to give something back to the community.

“This is just opening up the zoo to our community because we want them to be able to have a place to go with their family and see some lights,” Adams said.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic the zoo had to cancel Boo at the Zoo, but parents still showed up at the zoo with their children dressed in Halloween costumes.

“The whole family was dressed up and I thought we are going to have to do something for these people for Christmas, especially because the holiday village isn’t going to be up,” Adams said.

Zoo Nights and Lights will be open to the public from 6 to 9 p.m. Dec.3-6. Everyone will be required to wear a mask, which is already a mandate.

The fees are $5 for adults, and $3 for children 2 to 13. Children under 2 will get in free. Traditional food will be for sale, there will be traditional Christmas music and plenty of places where pictures can be taken.

La Mision will be providing music from 6 to 9 p.m. Because social distancing measures are to be followed, the zoo’s capacity will be at 25 percent. People planning to attend Zoo Nights and Lights are encouraged to sign up for their space online.

“We want to have timed entries. It keeps people spaced out,” Adams said. Tickets for Zoo Nights and Lights will go on sale Wednesday at

Zoo members will get their own day from 6 to 9 p.m. on Dec. 21.

The Holiday Express will also be making its way around the zoo for those who choose to be transported around the zoo. Because seating is limited, visitors are encouraged to reserve their seats as soon as possible.

To reserve a seat, call (956) 548-9453.The holiday express train rides will be Dec. 11-13 and Dec. 18-20. The train will depart at 6 p.m., 7 p.m., 8 p.m. and 9 p.m. Tickets are $15 for adults and $12 for children. For zoo members tickets are $10 for adults and $8 for children.