Zoo Boo returns to the Detroit Zoo for family-friendly Halloween

Erica Hobbs
Special to The Detroit News

Zoo Boo returns to the Detroit Zoo Friday for three weekends of “merry not scary” Halloween fun. The popular event features family-friendly Halloween-themed entertainment, displays, educational activities and more throughout the park, suitable for all ages.

“We really try to attract the younger children, the kids who maybe this is their first Halloween experience,” said Gerry VanAcker, the zoo’s chief operating officer.

Zoo Boo at the Detroit Zoo will feature “Smashing Pumpkins,” where staff provide animals with an assortment of seasonal goodies – like smashed pumpkins – to stimulate natural behaviors such as foraging.

The entire park will be open, so guests will still be able to visit the animals, though with some added Halloween flair, including festive displays where visitors can learn spooky animal facts. The event will also feature “Smashing Pumpkins,” where staff provide animals with an assortment of seasonal goodies – like smashed pumpkins – to stimulate natural behaviors such as foraging. 

Activities include live, extreme pumpkin carving, mimes, a flash mob, superhero re-enactments, a joking juggler and a live musical stage show, the Zoo Boo Revue. All guests are encouraged to wear costumes.

Those who have attended in the past will find some differences this year. With COVID-19, Zoo Boo will not be offering trick or treating stations. Instead, guests will receive a goody bag. Tickets must also be purchased in advance, and no walk-up tickets will be available. 

Zoo Boo also will start earlier in the day. The time has been moved up to the afternoon (as opposed to the evening in previous years), which VanAcker said allows guests to see more of the animals, as well have access to both the train and the carousel. 

“This way you can still see the animals and stop along the trail and see some of these different Zoo Boo activities,” VanAcker said.

Masks are recommended to attend the event and required for restaurants and other indoor spaces. 

VanAcker said people should come, because it’s a safe, unique, family-friendly way to celebrate Halloween. 

“It’s different than trick or treating or going to one of the haunted houses, which is a more scary experience,” he said. “This is more ‘merry not scary’ and a good place to bring young children.”

Zoo Boo

at the Detroit Zoo, 8450 10 Mile, Royal Oak

2-6 p.m. Oct. 8-10, 15-17 and 22-24

Tickets: $13 for for children age 2 and older and must be purchased in advance. Children younger than 2 get in free. 

Parking: $8

Visit www.detroitzoo.org