If you've ever wondered what the wild things behave like at night, then the Los Angeles Zoo invites you to meet Kelly, a Western lowland gorilla papa who chows down on a dinner of carrots. Wander around before sunset and you might gaze at snake handler Pam Wright. She's perfectly cool with a boa coiling around her wrist at dusk.
The L.A. Zoo at night is a different version of a wild kingdom with live music, dance, exhibits, art, food trucks and even a complimentary bicycle valet added to the mix.
PHOTOS: Roaring Summer Nights at L.A. Zoo
Gates open after standard hours for Roaring Summer Nights summer series with two upcoming events on July 25 and Aug. 22. This Friday night-out option offers Angelenos a chance to explore zoo grounds while indie bands perform and deejays spin for dancers on an outdoor floor. Tucked along the walkways are fully-stocked bars surrounded by the botanical gardens, a petting zoo with goats and sheep and even sleepy koalas in the Australia exhibit — they go to bed early so it's a good idea to get there before sunset if you plan on seeing them.
"The koalas like to go to sleep after dark, so we close that off," says Melissa Grossenbacher, Associate Director of Special Events at L.A. Zoo.
The summer event series is a rare chance for people to see animals while they're awake and most alert in their habitats, she says.
"When the sun goes down it's cooler and it's also dinner time for the animals," says Grossenbacher. A portion of the zoo remains open from 7 to 10 p.m. for zookeeper talks and special animal feedings throughout the night for people to learn more about wildlife.
Last week, about 2,400 visitors saw elephants, orangutans, reptiles and amphibians, checked out the new Rainforest of the Americas exhibit and played giant Jenga or saw indie band Strangeheart, says Grossenbacher. In July band Kiven will perform, followed by We are Twin.
If you feel inspired, there's also an area to paint on canvas.
"People love the paint party. We have a little station set up where people were taking canvas panels of 8 inch by 10 inch and told people to paint whatever moves them. So we have all these great animal paintings and people can take them home at the end of the night for a souvenir," she says.
Umami and the Grilled Cheese Truck will roll in for the event on July 25 and Baby's Badass Burgers, Ragin Cajun and Coolhaus trucks are included in the Aug. 22 mobile eats lineup listed online.
"We have a dance party with our deejay and full bars throughout the party. We have a free bike valet hosted by Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition," she adds.
Where: 5333 Zoo Drive, Los Angeles
When: 7 to 10 p.m., July 25 and Aug. 22
Admission: $18; $15 for GLAZA members. Parking is free. Limited to people 18 and over.
More info: lazoo.org/roaringnights/
Follow Nicole Charky on Twitter @nicolecharky