Costumed kids take over zoo after hours for trick-or-treat event

WASHINGTON — Children in princess dresses and firefighter uniforms peered over the zoo fences to sneak a peek at the cheetahs and zebras at the 18th-annual Boo at the Zoo event at the Smithsonian National Zoo in Woodley Park.

Boo at the Zoo, sponsored by Mars Chocolate NA and run by Friends of the National Zoo (FONZ), is a family-focused trick-or-treat event where families can dress up and collect treats at the zoo after normal hours. The event runs from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. through Sunday.

This year, families were in for a special treat: the Spooky Safari. Here, children could explore the nocturnal side of the zoo and were encouraged to find tracks and explore how certain animals survive in a nocturnal environment.

“We love to help educate and inspire the little ones so they can become the next generation of conservationists,” said Lynn Mento, executive director of FONZ.

FONZ also partnered with the Teal Pumpkin Project this year for kids with food allergies. Treat stations sporting a teal pumpkin sticker offered nonfood treats, such as glow sticks and stickers, for children with food allergies.

“It’s a wonderful way to be inclusive for the whole community for families who have children with food allergies,” Mento said. “When they go through the zoo … and they see at the treat stations the teal pumpkin stickers, they’ll know that those are treat stations that are completely safe for their kids.”

While tickets and parking passes sold out for Saturday night, families can still buy tickets for Sunday here.

Proceeds from the event will go toward FONZ’s work with the Smithsonian National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute in their efforts to save species around the world.

Metro riders can take the Red Line to Woodley Park-Zoo or Cleveland Park to reach the event.

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