Noc­tam­bule: Granby Zoo’s mag­i­cal night­time fall ex­pe­ri­ence

Sherbrooke Record - - FRONT PAGE - Dish­pan Hands Sheila Quinn

The witch­ing hour, some­body had once whis­pered to her, was a spe­cial mo­ment in the mid­dle of the night when every child and every grown-up was in a deep deep sleep, and all the dark things came out from hid­ing and had the world all to them­selves.'

- Roald Dahl

For a sec­ond year, Granby Zoo shares the night with guests, as their Noc­tam­bule in­ter­ac­tive night zoo visit al­lows vis­i­tors into the world of some of their res­i­dents.

Every Fri­day, Satur­day and Sun­day from Septem­ber 7th to Novem­ber 4th, Granby Zoo opens its gates for a three­hour tour, the re­main­ing nights, from Oc­to­ber 12th to Novem­ber 4th tak­ing place from 7:30 un­til 10:30 p.m.

At the gates the visit be­gins with an enor­mous glow­ing moon, an­i­mated by a hu­man face, wel­com­ing guests and in­tro­duc­ing the show. Mov­ing through the cen­tral path­way of the zoo to­wards the Dis­cov­ery Hut, where above the crowd, an ac­ro­bat creeps, crawls and tum­bles, at­tached to a slack­line span­ning across to­wards Di­no­zoo.

Lit with spot­lights, black­lights and warmed with out­door camp­fire spots com­plete with Adiron­dack chairs, the Di­no­zoo, Asia, South Amer­ica, the Vil­lage, the Cav­ern and the Dis­cov­ery Hut are the fea­ture lo­ca­tions of Noc­tam­bule.

While flash­lights are handy (and fun) when nav­i­gat­ing the paths, they are pro­hib­ited once in­side some habi­tats (as di­rected by Zoo staff, wear­ing their trade­mark Sa­fari hats, wreathed in small twin­kling lights, eas­ily vis­i­ble for help or ques­tions).

Through­out the wind­ing path­ways, the ground is lit with bilin­gual text, de­scrib­ing life for the zoo's res­i­dents.

Also in­ter­act­ing with vis­i­tors are three Noc­tam­bule char­ac­ters - Mother Na­ture, the Mas­ter of Shad­ows and the Noc­tam­bule Fairy, dressed in fan­ci­ful, the­atri­cal cos­tumes, telling sto­ries and even gath­er­ing folks to per­form sim­ple mag­i­cal rit­u­als to sum­mon warmth from the Earth's core, or to point out some of the more dif­fi­cult-to-spot an­i­mals as they sleep or watch from the shad­ows.

In the Asia ex­hibit, a small white, open hut fea­tures a per­former re­count­ing the story of a thou­sand pa­per cranes, while fold­ing origami cre­ations and invit­ing par­tic­i­pants to make a wish.

Among the high­lights are a sloth wait­ing for its evening snack, a colony of bats swirling around a large fruit bro­chette, clus­tered right in the fruit and munch­ing away, or fly­ing around, small cave fish that have no eyes, a black bear chow­ing down on its sup­per, the lions prowl­ing right along­side the view­ing room, just inches away, and snow leop­ards, with their lux­u­ri­ous tails mea­sur­ing longer than their bodies.

One of the most sim­ple, yet mag­i­cal fea­tures is a black­lit for­est walk, with fluroes­cent, glow­ing tree stump cir­cles, a young guest on her sec­ond visit com­mented that it was like some­thing out of Alice in Won­der­land.

Wind­ing up the evening, guests are in­vited to leave a piece of ID with the folks at the dance party hut, in ex­change for the re­quired num­ber to out­fit ev­ery­one in your group with ear­phones fea­tur­ing the Noc­tam­bule name glow­ing in a va­ri­ety of colours on the sides. With a se­lec­tion of playlists, ad­justable from a but­ton on the side of the ear­phones them­selves, guests make their way to the dance floor, com­plete with a gi­ant disco ball, to dance to pop mu­sic. A hi­lar­i­ous sight to be­hold when you don't have the ear­phones on - see­ing a group of peo­ple all danc­ing in rhythm, but with no au­di­ble mu­sic.

Granby Zoo's Noc­tam­bule's new fea­tures this year have de­vel­oped a neat Autumn night­time ex­pe­ri­ence, with a new view of the zoo!

For more in­for­ma­tion, please visit www.zood­e­granby.com where all in­for­ma­tion is fea­tured in English as well. Ages 13 and up visit for $14.99, ages 3 through 12 for $9.99, 2 year olds for just $4.99 and un­der two years of age visit for free. A rea­son­ably-priced ac­tiv­ity for fam­i­lies and kids of all ages.

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