ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – Workers at the Abilene Zoo have been setting up lights, Christmas trees and building reindeer pens for their upcoming Christmas Celebration.

As soon as you walk through the gates this December, you will be greeted by candy cane Christmas trees, the smell of hot chocolate and the tunnel of lights.

Supervisor of Conservation and Public Relations Clay Carabajal said the tunnel of light has over 25,000 twinkling lights, which is just one of the hundred thousands of light displays across the zoo.

Carabajal said that it takes approximately eight weeks to complete the lights and decorations of the zoo, but said it was worth it in order to give guests the best experience possible.

“Christmas is the time when family comes together, and the Abilene Zoo switches to that warm, cozy feeling.” Carabajal said.

He also said you’ll just about everything imaginable this Christmas season.

“We’ve got reindeer. We’ve got smores,” Carabajal said. “We’ve got hot totties for mom and dad, and we’ve got Santa Claus visiting to get your Christmas wish list.” 

Jo Perkins, the assistant manager of concessions at the Abilene Zoo, has been working at the zoo for three years, and said they are out stringing lights and decorating almost eight hours a day.

However, she says it is enjoyable for the employees, especially when families first stroll through the zoo and see it lit up for the first time.

“Oh my gosh, just seeing everyone’s smiles and laughter,” Perkins said. “The last two Christmas Celebrations that we had here, it’s just so warming and we are so happy that everyone is out here.”

Plus, Carabajal said it is a great way for families and the Abilene community to come together and spend the holidays.

“It’s the perfect place for everybody,” Carabajal said. “It’s a way for the community to unite, bring your family together and rebound after the couple years we’ve had under the beautiful lights of the Abilene Zoo.”

The Abilene Zoo Christmas Celebration will run from December 17-23, and will also feature a live nativity scene and daily ice sculpting.

You can buy your Abilene Zoo Christmas Celebration tickets, here.