Roaring Nights: The L.A. Zoo isn't just for kids

The first time that I had ever attended the Los Angeles Zoo was in the summer of 2009. It was very hot that day, and I remember wandering around from exhibit to exhibit as various families would pass me by. I spent a few hours there and I had a fun time, but I didn't really see myself coming back in the future unless I was with children. However, my view of the L.A. Zoo expanded when I attended Roaring Nights on Friday August 22, 2014 with my friend Chad.

Chad and I arrived at the event around 8pm, and although the free zoo lot was full, we still found parking in a lot across the street. (For cyclists, there was a free bicycle valet service available so that was cool and eco-friendly.) There were plenty of people walking up to the zoo entrance with us, but the lines were short and moved quickly. This was impressive considering that Roaring Nights, a summer series that is held once a month from June to August, averages 3,000 attendees per event.

Chad and I got our tickets and then we had our IDs checked before we were allowed entrance. Unlike my day trip at the zoo five years ago, the evening event, Roaring Nights, was 18 and up, and the clientele was a mix of couples and groups of friends looking for a fun Friday night. According to Laura Stegman of the LA Zoo, "The Zoo has had summer "Music in the Zoo" evenings for many years, and "Roaring Nights" was introduced a few years ago to attract new 18+ audiences looking for nightlife in unexpected venues."
T.Lo and Chad heading into Roaring Nights at the L.A. Zoo (Photo courtesy of Instagram.)
For the past three years, Roaring Nights has taken place during the summer once a month in June, July, and August. Each month, the event has different hip, musical guests. For August 2014's event, it hosted We Are Twin and DJ V Money. Previously, it hosted popular local band, Queen Caveat, a band that performs high energy, kickass shows. (Fun fact: I was in the music video for Queen Caveat's Breathe!)

Chad and I unfortunately never found where We Are Twin was performing, but we did enjoy DJ V Money who was set up by the carousel. He spun a lot of fun modern dance tunes such as Nicki Minaj's "Anaconda," which despite its dirtiness was very fitting for the setting. By the end of the night, Chad joined the dance party and almost twerked. It was wonderful. 

In addition to the dancing, zookeepers had tables set up where guests could see animals such as slithery snakes up close. Most of the other animals were turned in for the night, but the elephants were available to view. Because this event was all adults, many of whom were drinking, it was hilarious to witness their reactions. When I attended the zoo during the day, I heard a lot of wows from the kids, but at Roaring Nights, I just couldn't stop laughing at some drunk woman who nearly teared up saying, "The elephants! They're so beautiful. Why are they soooo beautiful?!?"**

**I mean, the elephants were beautiful, but I wasn't crying over them like they were Beyonce, but to each her own.

A zookeeper at a pop up animal display talks about snakes


Near the entrance, photographers were on hand to snap photos of guests. They took one serious picture and one picture of people pretending to look scared with their hands out so that they could photoshop an animal into their hands. Chad and I partook in this, and at the end of the night, we went to the photography stand to preview our pictures and they were really cute. We hesitated on buying and were told we could check out the photos later online. I've checked the website, and unfortunately Chad and I are nowhere to be found. Bummer. Luckily, there was another photo opportunity, and this one was free. The Zoo had a background set up along with random props, which included cut outs of animals and a fake Instagram border.

One of my favorite aspects of Roaring Nights was a painting station called “Animal Artistry Paint Party.” The station was near the front of the zoo, so people could paint when they came in and when they left, they could pick up their dried work. Canvasses and paint were free, and afterwards, everyone was able to hang their art work on a clothesline to dry. It was a smart idea, and it was a fun personal souvenir to take home at the end of the night.

Guests enjoy free painting at Roaring Nights
A variety of artistic expressions including an homage to bears

At different areas of the zoo, there were different bars and food trucks set up. Some of the food trucks included Baby’s Badass Burgers, Coolhaus, Lobsta Truck, Potato Tornado, Ragin Cajun,  and The Grilled Cheese Truck.  Like at most food truck events, the lines were long. Chad and I got Lobsta Truck, which was delicious, but we spent over thirty minutes waiting in line. Considering that the event lasted from 7pm to 10pm, waiting in food truck lines took up a large chunk of our time, but this seems to be a Los Angeles norm so we were used to it. At least there was never a long wait time for the bar service. 
Placing an order at the Lobtsa truck (All photos by T.Lo)
The L.A. Zoo's Roaring Nights is a well organized, classy event that's a great option for adults wanting to have an entertaining evening. Considering how many people attend Roaring Nights, it never felt crowded being there because the event planners were smart about where to place each station. The entertainment, food, and drink options were top notch, and every employee Chad and I encountered was friendly and seemed to take pride in the zoo. The only critique Chad and I had was that we wished that the event went on at least until midnight, but that may lead to a giant zoo rave so maybe nevermind... (Although that would be really fun. Just saying.)

Although August's Roaring Nights was the last one of this year, the Zoo holds other evening events tied to holidays. For instance, for Halloween, they will hold an event on October 25, 2014 called Night of the Living Zoo, and for Valentine's Day, they will host Sex and the City Zoo. Additionally, they will debut this year a night time wonderland of festive lights called Zoo Lights, which will open nightly (except for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day) from Friday, November 28, 2014 to Sunday January 4, 2015. For more information about the LA Zoo night time events, check out their website:

Chad paints a masterpiece