Philadelphia Zoo lights up blue to thank health care workers, first responders

The Philadelphia Zoo is aglow with blue lights to thank frontline workers. (Photo by Hughe Dillon)

The Philadelphia Zoo is aglow with blue lights to thank frontline workers. (Photo by Hughe Dillon)

The Philadelphia Zoo put on the ultimate holiday light show LumiNature last season, featuring lit-up sculptures and a laser show among many other dazzling items.

Although LumiNature is a no-go this year because of the pandemic, the country’s oldest zoo is still finding ways to make things shine.

As a nod and thank you to frontline workers, the zoo now has over 50,000 shimmering blue LED lights aglow at the Zoo’s Main Plaza, on its three 80-foot-tall London Plane trees.

The display on the trees and buildings at the zoo’s front entrance at 34th Street and Girard Avenue are a way to safely celebrate the holiday season and recognize the thousands of Philadelphia-area residents who have risked their health to keep everyone else safe during the pandemic.

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“It has been a difficult time for so many, with people across the region and across the world being so deeply affected,” said Vikram H. Dewan, Philadelphia Zoo’s president and CEO. “We wanted to show our appreciation to those who have been working tirelessly since the pandemic hit,” Dewan said. “We also wanted to share something beautiful with our neighbors, daily commuters, passersby and zoo supporters. This light display enables us to do both … even if it’s just a small, yet heartfelt, token of our appreciation.”

The sapphire light display takes the place of LumiNature for now, which was unveiled for the first time last year and will return in November 2021.

“This holiday season might feel a little different for many of us, but if the zoo can symbolize the region’s appreciation for those who have shown such commitment during these hard times, while also providing a beam of beauty for all that pass by, then we are thrilled,” said Amy Shearer, chief marketing and experience officer.

The Philadelphia Zoo is open currently — but with COVID-19 mitigation protocols in place, including ticket sales limited to 50% of the zoo’s typical capacity, advance ticket purchasing, and social distancing and masks required for visitors ages 2 and up. Indoor exhibits Big Cat Falls and Water is Life are open at limited capacity, and lines to enter will close at 3 p.m. All other indoor exhibits remain closed.

For people unable to see the light display in person, you can view a live camera feed here from now through early January, with the best picture quality during dawn, dusk and evening.

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