Jungle Bells at the SD Zoo

jungle Bells

The world famous, San Diego zoo hosts a winter event called Jungle Bells. This event occurs throughout the zoo in the evenings starting from about 4 to 8 pm. What will you expect at Jungle Bells?

jungle Bells

Well, first of all, do not expect to see animals. As darkness approaches and temperature falls, animals settle into their beds to sleep. Nocturnal animals will be at their prime; however, they are difficult to see because their enclosures are dark - after all, they like being in the dark.

Nope, Jungles Bells is more about walking around outside, enjoying the brisk air, seeing the colorful lights, and participating in holiday events.

jungle Bells
jungle Bells
jungle Bells

Activities change every year and there are unavoidable last minute changes. Consult the zoo web site for up to date information. Below are some activities seen in past winters:

2012: Start your evening with a tree lighting near the front entrance of the zoo. Tree lighting occurs at 5 pm every night for the duration of Jungle Bells. Here, you will also find Bell Ringers perform Jingle Bells.

2012: For young children, there is an interactive storytelling of "Twas the Night Before Christmas" by Dr Zoolittle. Audience members are given musical instruments to help put a zoo-twist on this classic story. Located in the Clarke Theater (Discovery Outpost) near the children's petting zoo.

2009: Children enjoy the onstage sing-along with facilitator Campfire Cathy and Churchill Polar Bear. Located near Sydney's Grill.

Over the years, there have been some spectacular shows. To see them, you will need to run around the zoo to the different theatres. Typically, there are 3 performances of each show so you will surely catch one of them. Shows are usually 15-20 minutes long and they start on the hour or on the half-hour.

2009: The "Winter's Winged Wonders" is a bird show with a winter theme and Holiday music accompaniment. Located at the Hunte Amphitheater. Animal trainers and their talented birds put on a great performance where birds will do tricks such as take money out of your hands, or snatch a grape from midair. Best off all, this is a free-flight show which means that the birds' wings are not clipped. More photos

2009: The "Fire and Ice Show" happens in the Wegeforth Bowl. Here, Ice Queens will use chainsaws and blow torches to carve a 300-pound block of ice into an animal of your choice. Ice will fly and music will blare but be patient because it takes 20+ minutes to create an ice sculpture. More photos

2010: The "Jumpin', Jammin' Elves" tumble, twist, and twirl to holiday music. At the end of the show, they give out small souveniers and you can have your nose painted red (with a dash of glitter). Everyone loves trampolines and tricks, so these acrobats made a reappearance in 2011 and 2012. More photos

2011: There will be "SPLASH! - The Wizards of Winter" and "Frosty's Magical and Musical Jumping Waters"

2012: The new attraction is Chocolate Town. Here you can buy chocolate pretzels, chocolate cake-pops, chocolate graham crackers, and other chocolate delights including hot chocolate. Also, you can see a light-show rendition of The Twelve Days of Christmas. Sprinkle on top of that: character appearances, animal ambassadors, and local performers.

Also new for 2012 is the "Tinseltown Trolley Light Tour" which costs $1 to $2. This round trip ride will give you a tour of the highlights of the zoo and Jungle Bells.
jungle Bells
jungle Bells
jungle Bells

jungle Bells
jungle Bells
Of course, what is Holiday festivities without Santa? Visit Santa at his workshop. Drop by, say "Hi" and take a pic!

Up at the Polar Bear Plunge, you will find a poinsettia display. Why not take a family photo here with the silver polar bears?

Getting a little chilly? Vendors will serve holiday treats from various locations throughout the zoo:
cotton candy
roasted corn
gingerbread cookies
apple cider
hot chocolate
Mexican hot chocolate
specialty coffee drinks,
caramel apples
and other holiday goodies

The Skyride is transformed with wrap around holiday lights complete with a blinking Rudolph-nose. Shown is an aerial view as seen from the Skyride.

Before you leave, be sure to check the miniature train just outside the zoo. (map location 3) This little train is decorated with holiday lights making it a festive ride for the young and the young-at-heart. Cost is $2.50 per ride. More photo.

While you're out there, why not take a spin on the carousel? This historical carousel was built in 1910 with hand carved animals created by European craftsmen. Costs is $2.50 but it's free if you can grab the brass ring.

Throughout the park, you will find colorful lights arranged into zoo and holiday themes. There is much to do at the San Diego Zoo at this special time of year. So go on over and enjoy an evening of holiday cheer. Remember to dress warmly and wear sensible walking shoes.

When and Where

Jungle Bells at the San Diego Zoo
2920 Zoo Drive in Balboa Park
Zoo opens 9 am to 8 pm, Jungle Bell activities occur various times but they typically start after 4 pm.
jungle Bells
jungle Bells
jungle Bells