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Not time for hibernation yet: Columbus Zoo begins fall season

Not time for hibernation yet: Columbus Zoo begins fall season

Nicholas Youngblood

Yesterday marked the start of the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium’s fall season, and following close behind comes the zoo’s “merry-not-scary” Halloween celebration, Boo at the Zoo. As the weather grows cooler, visitors can expect some of their favorite temperate-climate animals to wake up and smell the pumpkins.

“I think the best time to come to the zoo is during the fall because you’ll see more activity, and I think that that cooler weather is fun for everybody,” said Tom Stalf, president and CEO of the Columbus Zoo.

Stalf cited the North American exhibit as the area to watch for more lively behavior. Animals such as the moose, reindeer, bears, and lynx will perk up. But that doesn’t mean creatures from a warmer climate won’t enjoy the shift in weather.

“Our elephants enjoy cooler weather as well,” Stalf said. “And during Boo at the Zoo, they’ll be playing with pumpkins.”

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For those who spurn cold weather, Stalf said there are plenty of year-round, indoor exhibits that were added just this year, such as Jack Hanna’s Animal Encounters Village. The zoo has also introduced a number of behind-the-scenes experiences available for purchase this year, which allow visitors to interact with the elephants, reindeer, red pandas, and more.

Photo courtesy of Lori Schmidt

As the autumn leaves change, so do the zoo’s hours. Starting today, the Columbus Zoo is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Please note that special hours for Boo at the Zoo will be observed during three weekends in October: Oct. 16-18, Oct. 23-25, and Oct. 30-Nov. 1.

Boo at the Zoo is a beloved annual tradition that encourages kids and their grown-ups to embrace the spooky season each weekend by donning their costumes and participating in scavenger hunts, trick or treating, and other activities. Stalf said some activities, such as trick-or-treating, will make minor adjustments to stay safe and compliant with COVID-19 restrictions. Still, he insists there is plenty of candy to go around.

“We will definitely not run out. I promise you that,” said Stalf.

Boo at the Zoo hours will be Friday from 5 to 9 p.m., Saturday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., and the event runs from Oct. 16 through Nov. 1. More information about activities and costume policies can be found on the Columbus Zoo event page here.

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