The Calgary Zoo has been closed since July 25, due to the flooding that took place, but that isn’t stopping Roz Freeman and Josh Watson from pushing forward and keeping the Zoolights tradition alive.
Freeman, the special events and promotions adviser for the Calgary Zoo, and Watson, zoo ready supervisor, were working hard in the run up to the Nov. 29 kickoff, to make sure that the 16th annual Zoolights is better than ever.
“The beauty of Zoolights is that it is tradition to so many families, so you don’t want to change that,” said Freeman.
“But this year we have more lights than ever, 1.75 million is what I’ve been telling people. We also have more co-ordinated light shows and more interaction for the public in general.”
The Calgary Zoo opened on Nov. 28, which gave Freeman and her crew only 24 hours to make sure that all the wrinkles of the nine month set-up process have been ironed out.
“When we open the island on Nov.28 to the public we will be business as usual,” Freeman explained.
“We [the crew] use that extra day to make sure everything is running smoothly.”
Freeman also stated that all attractions will be open, including the heavily damaged Savannah Africa exhibit. According to Freeman her crew was unable to set up for Zoolights in that exhibit until Nov. 18 due to the repairs.
“The Africa exhibit was one of the most damaged exhibits from the flood. That is the last thing we are working on as the construction was going on until just last week.”
Freeman said the flood caused a few complications during the initial set-up for Zoolights, including missing their August deadline due to the flood, but overall Freeman and her crew managed to push through the adversity and actually found some benefits to the sticky situation.
“Not having new lights was a big concern, [but] we were able to work with the supplier though and eventually had new lights on order,” said Freeman.
“The fact that the zoo was closed during set-up ended up being a benefit. It gave the crew more room to work as there was no public to work around.”
Watson explained that even though the zoo was closed during the set-up, the crew still needed to work around construction.
“While we set up, we sometimes have to work around the construction guys.
The fact that the zoo was closed during set-up ended up being a benefit. It gave the crew more room to work as there was no public to work around. – Roz Freeman
“But we have always been able work out a schedule and work as a team to get the zoo back to what it was,” said Watson.
Zoolights will run from Nov. 29 to Jan. 4, 2014 and is open from 6 p.m. till 9 p.m. nightly excluding Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve.