My family and I returned from our safari with Santa Claus at the Louisville Zoo  having had a blast. It was rollicking good fun, full of treats, songs, and meet-n-greets with some of the Zoo animals. My older daughter really enjoyed herself, and my younger little boy thoroughly took in all the sights and sounds of the jolly afternoon.
The afternoon started by checking in with our tickets at the front gate at the zoo. We were instructed to follow the candy canes through the Islands area to the Gheens Room, which is located in the Islands Pavilion. We began by waiting in the room where you can view the orangutans, so we hung out and watched the orangutans for about 15 minutes. We had arrived early, and the event did start on time with seating beginning at 12pm. The room was a little bit crowded but it didn’t last too long. I’m lucky because I have an older child and one still in a stroller so they don’t get too antsy. In this room the Louisville Youth Board was hosting face painting ($1) and sand art projects ($2-4.) At first I thought the prices were a little bit high but then I realized it’s fundraising for the youth board and the Zoo. Most kids were getting their faces painted.
At 12pm, we were called to be seated in the Gheens Room. We checked in with a Zoo staff person who had our reservation and the number in our party. They seated everyone at tables that were assigned a letter. The tables had some candy packs, coloring pages, and crayons so the kids could eat some treats and start coloring as they arrived. Also on the tables were the Santa Safari passports and a sheet with words to the Christmas songs we would be singing later. As the kids were munching on candy and coloring, Frosty arrived accompanied by a wintertime penguin. They walked around the whole room, greeting guests and obliging pictures at every request. My little one especially enjoyed Frosty!
A little while into the event, Mrs. Claus came bearing cookies for all the children. She and some elves passed them out and the kids enjoyed them. They also handed out a picture frame craft set for the children to make. It was a cute, easy craft and my daughter really enjoys crafts, so this was a plus for her. Mrs. Claus also posed for pictures with anyone who asked her. Following making the craft, Mrs. Claus announced the caroling sing-along time. Kids could sit on the floor by Santa’s chair and sing Christmas songs. A short while later, the crowd sang “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” to call Santa, who had just landed his sleigh, to meet everyone for pictures. Santa arrived with applause at the end of the song. The zoo staff called out the table letters and had everyone line up for their picture with Santa, which was printed and provided by the zoo.
Once you received your photo, you were free to start filling up your Safari passport. Signage was provided to find all ten stations between the Islands, Herpaquarium, and the Metazoo. Children met and touched several animals up close and personal, including a bearded dragon, a ball python, a ferret, a hedgehog, and a rabbit or guinea pig. Once your passport was officially stamped, the event was concluded. There was also a storyteller reading holiday stories in the Metazoo Theater.
The Santa Safari really was a fun, festive holiday event and I recommend going. Especially on a rainy day like today, it was nice to be indoors and out of the elements. There are three remaining dates for the Zoo’s event: Sunday, December 9, Saturday, December 15, and Sunday, December 16. Seating times are 10am, 12pm, and 2pm. Tickets for the event need to be purchased online . Prices are as follows: For guests ages 3 and older, tickets are $15.95 for Louisville Zoo members and $20.95 for non-members. For guests ages 3 and under, tickets are $8.50 for Louisville Zoo members and $11 for non-members. Tickets include all day admission to the zoo as well.
Attendees also receive an admission ticket, included in your Safari ticket purchase, to The Polar Express 4-D Experience, which is a spectacular and exhilarating show. You can use your ticket at any time during the run of the show, which is through January 6.
Photos by Erin Nevitt, Cover photo courtesy of Louisville Zoo, Facebook