Northern Virginia zoo reopens with a light show and a new name

Butterflies at the NOVA Wild Zoo’s Great Migration Light Show. (Courtesy NOVA Wild Zoo)
Squirrels at the NOVA Wild Zoo’s Great Migration Light Show. (Courtesy NOVA Wild Zoo)
A deer at the NOVA Wild Zoo’s Great Migration Light Show. (Courtesy NOVA Wild Zoo)

Northern Virginia real estate agent and entrepreneur Tara Campbell Lussier has purchased the former Roer’s Zoofari and is reopening it as a nonprofit zoo, NOVA Wild, and a self-drive safari, kicking off its grand opening Feb. 17 with the Great Migration Light Show.

The zoo has partnered with Lumagia for a light show running through April 19 that uses 800,000 LED light displays representing wildlife migrations around the world. It includes 10 designated animal habitats along more than one mile of trails running through the property.

The 30-acre zoo, called Reston Zoo before becoming Roer’s Zoofari (located in Vienna), is now accredited by the Zoological Association of America and American Humane. It will focus on animal welfare, education and conservation.

The staff is made up of a team of veterinarians and an animal welfare expert.

Lussier, a mother of four children, grew up in Reston and now lives nearby.

“I grew up in this town, and we all visited the Reston Zoo when we were kids,” she said. “I am excited to give local families the chance to experience wildlife firsthand, and we’re modernizing the property to create an optimal experience, both for our visitors and the animals that live here.”

The zoo plans to offer talks with zoo keepers, opportunities to feed the animals and other experiences, in addition to its drive-through safari and stroll-through exhibits.

Among animals at the zoo are Watusis, Asian water buffalo, cheetahs, lemurs, wallabies, and over 30 species of exotic butterflies.

The zoo’s hours are Thursdays through Sundays, and every day from April 3-7 from 4:30 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Jeff Clabaugh

Jeff Clabaugh has spent 20 years covering the Washington region's economy and financial markets for WTOP as part of a partnership with the Washington Business Journal, and officially joined the WTOP newsroom staff in January 2016.

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