"Howl"elujiah! It's Time for Creatures of the Night
The year was 1980 and the staff of ZooAmerica North American Wildlife Park in Hershey wanted a change. The change they were hoping for was to host a Halloween event that was family-friendly, non-scary, fun and even educational.
A lofty goal, some might say, but not for the ZooAmerica team who hosted 800 people for the very first “Creatures of the Night” event held on an October weekend. The first Creatures of the Night featured owl and wolf encounters, a staff member inside the bat exhibit answering guests’ questions, and the Zoo’s many nocturnal residents. Nature movies were shown from a reel and projected onto a large white screen as guests quietly sat and enjoyed the show.
Today, ZooAmerica is hosting the 37th annual Creatures of the Night and now many parents who visit tell the staff that their great memories bring them back to the Creatures and the opportunity to share encounters with their own children.
I spoke with Dale Snyder, ZooAmerica General Curator; and Elaine Gruin, ZooAmerica Curator of Education about the early years of Creatures of the Night and also what guests can look forward to in 2016 when the annual celebration is October 14-16, October 21- 23 and October 28- 30.
Both Dale and Elaine, as well as all the ZooAmerica Team, are enthusiastic about the animals who make their home at the Zoo. Their goal is to educate and inspire guests about animals and to also learn about conserving the world’s limited resources.
New this Halloween season are the Zoo’s nine-banded armadillos who will be featured as one of the encounters in a program entitled “All about Armadillos?” Also new is the “Howl”elujiah chorus; an opportunity for guests to match their howls to the Zoo’s resident wolves.
“Skunk Tales” shares facts about the well-known mammal with the ability to spray a foul smelling liquid. Guests can learn the facts and bust the myths in “Truth or Tales,” a nightly program that tests animal knowledge.
“Touch a Reptile” has become an annual favorite as guests have the opportunity for an up-close encounter with an alligator, a snake or a lizard.
Dale and Elaine both agreed on their favorite Creatures of the Night activity- Luminary making. Guests make luminaries that hold small white candles and are placed inside the Prairie Dog enclosure creating a warm glow inside the Zoo. Both Dale and Elaine were quick to tell me that all the Prairie Dogs are underground at this time.
I have been a guest many times at Creatures of the Night so our conversation brought back many memories for me too. Our conversation lasted more than an hour and made me even more excited for October 14 and the 37th annual Creatures of the Night.
How about you? Do you have memories to share? I hope so. But, if not, you can start making them this month!