ZooLights at the National Zoo

The Smithsonian’s National Zoo has canceled two big seasonal events — Boo at the Zoo and ZooLights — due to COVID-19.

It’s the second straight year the popular nighttime events have been called off because of the pandemic.

Both events attract many families with children, according to Pamela Baker-Masson, associate director of communications and exhibits at the National Zoo. She said in an email to WTOP that children under age 12 remain ineligible for COVID-19 vaccination, and zoo officials did not feel the events could be done safely during the pandemic.

Currently, the National Zoo uses timed-entry passes for visitors during regular hours, which allow ample space for safe social distancing.

Both Boo at the Zoo, a Halloween event with special exhibits and games for children, and ZooLights, a year-end holiday display with thousands of sparkling lights, are outdoor nighttime events. With animal houses closed at night, the zoo’s outdoor space could be limited in providing adequate social distancing for big crowds.

Baker-Masson expressed hope that the popular seasonal celebrations can take place in 2022.

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