Hogle Zoo Lights, a scene that is truly wild

SALT LAKE CITY -- It's one of the brightest Christmas traditions in Utah. This year Zoo Lights are back and brighter than ever. Kick off isn't until Friday but we got a look behind the scenes at what’s new.

This will be the 12th year of Zoo Lights. All your favorites are still there along with some new, almost life-like additions.

“It's a little bit more of an undertaking than decorating your house at home,” Hannah Stanton, Special Event Supervisor at Utah's Hogle Zoo said.

Among the animals, crews are setting the stage for a scene that's truly wild. Wrapping trees, arranging displays and making those finishing touches.

“We're just putting a little bit more light into the event in all the little elements,” Stanton said.

It's a transformation that starts in July.

“It really does take us that long to get it up and running,” Erica Hansen, the zoo's manager of community relations said.

Bright and bold decorations with a new, almost life like addition.

“You see people come around the corner and all the kids will go 'oooohhh,'” Hansen said.

These life size animal shaped lanterns are custom made for Utah’s Hogle Zoo. While they won't growl, they glow. Filling in for the zoo animals at night.

“A lot of our animals don't do well in the cold night," Hansen said. "A lot of animals are very particular about their bed times like our great apes they really don't want to be bothered past 6 p.m."

You will spot sea lions and Asian big cats prowling around though. And of course, jolly Saint Nick.

“Santa loves the zoo so Santa loves to spend time here with the kids,” Hansen said.

The zoo is now just days away from turning into a winter wonderland.

“We have a smaller park but it is a lot of ground to cover and we want to really impress people when they come to the zoo,” Stanton said.

While you're admiring the hundreds of thousands of lights and those new animal lanterns there will be hot chocolate and other sweets going around.

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