Holiday Lights Fundraiser Helps Keep Zoo Free

Mackenzie Christman (Reporter)

Alesha Gunther (Photojournalist)

During the holiday season, when the sun goes down- lights at the Henry Vilas Zoo come up. The light show is one of a handful of fundraising events hosted by the zoo throughout the year. 

Zoo Operations Manager Eddie Sherman said that the event is so popular it draws large crowds regardless of the weather. 

“Last night it was down-pouring and there was still a hundred people here. One family came up to me and said, we’re never gonna forget this,” Sherman said. 

Events like the light show let the public visit the zoo free of charge. 

Marketing Manager Kristin Moala said that all money raised goes to support the animals and help the zoo make important innovations. 

We’re very proud of being one of only nine free AZA accredited zoos in the United States,” Moala said, “That AZA accreditation is really important to us because it allows us to get funding for endangered species that we have here in the zoo.” 

Some of the projects the zoo is working on are uncommon. 

We do research for things, we get to do procedures,” Moala said.  “We tried to do artificial insemination on our female polar bear this year, which has not been successful in the United States yet.” 

There is no shortage of community members who come out to support the zoo during these fundraisers, especially since there is no admission fee during the rest of the year.

Community member Shelby Huber said that a free zoo allows her family more flexibility and she is happy to lend her support to Henry Vilas. 

“So you can come for a picnic and leave 30 minutes later, you can spend the whole afternoon here. And the activities that they’ve added are incredible,” Huber said. 

The zoo’s holiday light show is open every Thursday-Sunday from 5:30 until 9pm until December 29th.

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