Walking through the darkness, guests can’t see anything save for the flickering shadows created by the billion twinkling points of star light from above. They reach the end of the path, click on their flashlights, and are immediately staring at…
A grizzly bear or three, each several hundred pounds of pure ferociousness in a cuddly package. Mountain lions that knew you arrived long before you did. Wolves on the prowl, easily goaded into letting out spine-chilling howls that bring the whole park to life in an outstanding pre-Halloween scare.
When Big Bear Alpine Zoo hosts Flashlight Safaris Fridays and Saturdays at 7 p.m. through October 29, guests see the zoo at its best. Sure daytime visits are great when there’s lots of light for viewing, but it’s after dark when the show really gets going, long after the park is usually closed. When the sun sets and shadows form, many of the animals that are hard to see by day come alive with the sights and sounds of nature.
The wolves assure guests a howling good Halloween season after dark with bloodcurdling howls cries that send goosebumps up and down the arms. Same with the coyotes. Sure the beasts are in their cages, but even so the heart skips a beat! Snow leopards are also nocturnal and more alive after dark. When the predators become active so too do prey.
Watching the big cats prowl back and forth is worth the $12 admission ($9 ages 3-10, under 3 free) in itself. Yet the entire park seemingly stirs and becomes more active after dark; beavers that typically are in their den by day come out at night. Bobcats, foxes, raccoons, skunks and owls are other creatures that love the dark.
Flashlight Safaris have become so popular, Fridays have been added to satisfy demand. “Last year some nights we had 100 or so people show up,” curator Bob Cisneros said.
Gates open at 6:30 p.m. with tours promptly at 7. Bring a flashlight. Call (909) 584-1299 or (909) 878-4200.