The (animal) kingdom by night

Sleep at the Zoo on a “Lights Out” group overnight campout

Girl Scouts make s’mores at the Savanna fire pit during a Lights Out overnight. Dallas Zoo/Cathy Burkey

Girl Scouts make s’mores at the Savanna fire pit during a Lights Out overnight. Dallas Zoo/Cathy Burkey

Lions, tigers and … venomous creatures of the night, oh my! Ever wonder what goes on at the Zoo after the gates are closed and the lights go out?

It’s a full sensory experience under the Texas stars. Grab a flashlight and head out for a private, guided expedition as the sun sets and twilight takes over. You’ll explore the nooks and crannies of the Zoo, guided by a knowledgeable safari guide. (If you’re lucky, she might even play the ukulele.)

Stop by Primate Place to see a colobus monkey prove its dominance; the Wings of Wonder to hear an eagle owl vocalize an “ooh-hu;” or the Koala Walkabout to see these marsupials do what they do best… sleep. (Eucalyptus leaves contain an enzyme to make them doze!)


It’s lights out in Camp Okapi for the Girl Scouts. Dallas Zoo/Cathy Burkey

Experience a special animal presentation in the Lacerte Family Children’s Zoo, where you’ll get to meet and touch a variety of animals that aren’t on public exhibit. At the herpetarium, see a scaly python. Or investigate animal adaptation by encountering ocelots and other nocturnal species. Enjoy a midnight snack by the campfire, then sleep only meters away from the king of the jungle – so you’ll wake up to nature’s alarm clock.

The Lights Out Group Overnight is an educational and inspirational experience for children and adults alike, with nature at your fingertips and adventure around every corner. With enlightening leaders from the Zoo’s Education Department, you’ll see the Dallas Zoo in a whole new light.

(If you’re not ready for a full overnight adventure, our Twilight Safari Night Hikes resume Nov. 14, featuring a guided nighttime tour through the park from 7-10 p.m.)

For more info or to register, visit or call 469-554-7500.

Lights Out Overnight dates:

Overnights start at 7 p.m. and end at 10 a.m. the following day, and are offered to organized groups only. (Our new Family Campout offers a similar campout available to those not in organized groups. See the website for more details.) Activities include an after-hours tour, arts and crafts, encounters with nocturnal animals and a light snack. A continental breakfast the next morning is followed by a zookeeper talk. Each child receives an official Dallas Zoo “Lights Out” patch. Minimum group size is 10; maximum size is 50. A minimum of one adult per 10 children is required.

Dates this fall:

  • Friday, Oct. 3
  • Saturday, Oct. 4
  • Friday, Oct. 10
  • Saturday, Oct. 11
  • Friday, Oct. 17
  • Saturday, Oct. 18
  • Friday, Nov. 7
  • Saturday, Nov. 8


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