“No visitor ever injured an animal, nor got into an animal enclosure,” the zoo said in an emailed statement. “Zoo Nights, like all events held during the day or after hours, is carefully planned to ensure that our animals are always well looked after.”
Promoted as a chance to see “what the natural kingdom get up to after hours,” the event allows visitors to take guided tours of the park, attend talks hosted by zookeepers, listen to live music and wander through different stands in a festival-like atmosphere.
On the opening night of the 2019 season — which runs for eight Fridays through July 26 — women dressed as zebras paced the grounds on stilts, lawn chairs encircled an acrobat, and children were noticeably absent.
Visitors sported animal ears and elaborate face paint and wandered past the enclosures of Humboldt penguins, towering giraffes and Sumatran tigers, drinks in hand. Music pulsed from speakers in the background.
Those in attendance on the opening night said they had mixed feelings. Daniel Wood, 25, who was making his second visit to the zoo, said he had no major concerns about the event, despite his view that city zoos did not provide the best quality of life for animals.
“City zoos should be phased out, if you look around, it’s not a massive space,” he said.
But he did express some concern about the pop music flowing from nearby speakers. “It’s quite loud, and I’m not sure how much the lion appreciates Dua Lipa,” he said.
Lucy Forrest, 25, attended the event with a group of friends. She said she trusted that the zoo was providing the best care possible for the animals.