Cosley Zoo’s Festival of Lights

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When you think of zoo lights, Brookfield or Lincoln Park may come to mind – but there’s a closer alternative right here in DuPage County.

A howling wolf, lounging turtles, and a snacking dinosaur – these are just some of the decorations you can see at Cosley Zoo’s annual Festival of Lights and Christmas Tree Sale fundraiser.

It’s how the little 5-acre zoo has been celebrating Christmastime for over 30 years.

“To see now people come in and talk about what a tradition this is for the family, how it’s been an important part of their live means a great deal to me. It’s a great fundraiser for us but to know we’re an important part of people’s lives is really meaningful,” said Cosley Zoo Director Susan Wahlgren.

The zoo, which is owned by the Wheaton Park District, features barnyard staples, as well as Illinois-native wildlife like bobcats, deer, and coyotes.

The smaller scale of the zoo means you can walk it in about an hour – making it a really welcoming place for families with young kids.

“It’s not too big, never very crowded. I feel very safe with my children, they can get really close to the animals and they really enjoy it. It’s not very costly either. You only pay for adults, don’t have to pay for kids,” said Angela Gouwens, who’s been a regular attendee of the Cosley Zoo for three years.

And admission is actually free in December as part of the Festival of Lights – which weaves Christmas lights into and around the zoo’s paths and exhibits.

Of course there’s a light up pig beside the living pigs, and dozens of ducks share their pond with their Christmas counterparts.

“It’s fun to see the Cosely Zoo at night. This is the only time of year it’s open after dark and it’s fun to see something different here,” said Sarah Hall, who buys her family’s Christmas tree at the zoo every year.

With creative lights, lots of animals, and maybe even a blanket of snow – the Cosley Zoo makes for a Christmas destination kids will love.

You can see Cosley Zoo’s Festival of Lights through December 30.

Naperville News 17’s Blane Erwin reports.