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MN Zoo's new drive-thru event will feature nearly 30 giant illuminated animal installations

The limited-time winter event will feature nearly 30 illuminated animals, including a 30-foot red panda and an enormous sea turtle.
MNZoo_Nature Illuminated Sea Turtle

The Minnesota Zoo is launching a new, nighttime drive-thru event featuring illuminated animal art installations around the grounds.

Nature Illuminated at the Apple Valley zoo opens Dec. 3 and will feature nearly 30 custom-designed illuminated animal art, including a 30-foot red panda and a cockatoo that's larger than your car, the zoo announced Friday.

MNZoo_Nature Illuminated Cockatoo

The illuminated inflated animals – designed by Landmark Creations in Burnsville, which also has designed pieces for the MTV Video Music Awards, Coachella and the GRAMMY Awards – will be installed along a three-quarter-mile route where vehicles will drive at less than 2 mph.

Attendees are encouraged to stop and take photos of the animals from their car while listening to a 30-minute audio tour filled with stories and sounds of the animals featured, such as the Amur leopard and the sea turtle. 

Nature Illuminated will run from Dec. 3-Jan. 17. Those interested in attending can buy tickets for a designated date and time online here starting at 9 a.m. on Nov. 16. Tickets must be purchased in advance.

The event will be open 5-9 p.m. on Sundays-Thursdays and 5-11 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. Weeknight tickets (Sunday-Thursday) cost $25 per vehicle for zoo members and $50 for non-members. Weekend tickets will run you more – $35 per vehicle for members/$60 per vehicle for non-members.

This limited-time winter event will support the Minnesota Zoo and its mission "to connect people, animals and the natural world to save wildlife." Nature Illuminated will highlight some of the world's most "endearing and endangered animals" and share with attendees how their actions can help save wildlife.

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