Lights of the Wild to glow through December


This Holiday Season, with the support of Jones Companies, the Hattiesburg Zoo is unveiling Lights of the Wild, a family holiday experience. This unique, exotic lantern festival showcases the diversity of wildlife found around the world, while helping us celebrate the season and usher in the New Year.

A Chinese lantern festival usually refers to a “spring lantern festival” that culminates at the end of the Chinese New Year. It symbolically carries people’s hopes for a better life and prosperity in the coming year.

A “lantern festival” is presented to focus on peace, forgiveness, and reconciliation. We can think of no better way to get people in the holiday spirit than to highlight this message with the plants and animals of our natural world through a vibrant, exotic, and unique celebration.”

 Handcrafted Chinese lanterns originated in the Western Han Dynasty nearly 2,000 years ago, and are considered a traditional craft. In ancient times, oil, paper, or satin would be used to make the outer skin of the lantern, and bamboo was used to make the skeleton, with candles placed inside of the structure. In modern times, the production of colored lanterns has come a long way with the addition of eco-friendly materials, LED light bulbs, and moving parts to create exquisite, larger-than-life displays. 

The dream of transforming the Zoo for Lights of the Wild would not be possible without the collaborative efforts and hard work of the incredible staff at Jones Companies and the Hattiesburg Convention Commission.

Everyone has gone above and beyond with smiles on their faces, spending countless hours, day and night, planning, preparing, traveling, lifting, packing with care, loading and unloading, driving more than 10 18-wheelers literally 1,000 miles, all to bring this event to life in the Hub City. Amazing things happen when people come together to create something new. With hundreds of handmade, LED light sculptures, this will be the first event of its kind in Mississippi, and the largest display in the Southeast region. Guests can expect to see a monkey village that “glows” as high as 18 feet, along with gorgeous herds of zebras. Not to mention meerkats, African elephants, lions, mandrills, and everything in between.

"One of Jones' core values is sustainability," said Brian Haynes, President of Jones Logistics, part of the Jones family of companies, and the company that worked with the Zoo to load and haul the lanterns to Hattiesburg. "As such, we believe in investing in the communities we serve across the country. Hattiesburg is thriving, and we want to contribute to the area in creative and innovative ways. Working with the Zoo on this project was a great opportunity to do just that."


“We are excited to have these incredible wildlife light sculptures in Mississippi,” said Rick Taylor, Executive Director of the Hattiesburg Convention Commission.  “These lanterns fill the Zoo with beauty, festivity, and holiday spirit.  Through the support of Jones Companies, we are making it possible for families and friends to create lasting memories during this season, and many to come. Aligning Lights of the Wild with our mission to educate guests to care for the natural world has been an exciting endeavor, and one that further grows the unique experiences found at the Hattiesburg Zoo. Our wish is for everyone to be part of the magic this December, and see what’s glowing on at the Hattiesburg Zoo!”


Advanced tickets are $13 per person online, or can be purchased at the gate for $15 per person. Children under the age of 2 get in free. Admission to Lights of the Wild includes unlimited rides on the train and carousel, story time with Mrs. Claus in the Asbury Discovery Center, animal encounters, and more. For all of the Frozen fans, Elsa and Anna will be out for a meet and greet, and everyone will have the opportunity to see Santa Claus and take a photo. Holiday treats and libations will be available for purchase, as well as the full Safari Grill menu. 

are on sale now for this event, happening for 14 nights during December, 2019: (6th - 8th), (13th - 15th), (20th - 23rd), & (26th - 29th) from 6:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. each night listed. 

For more information, please visit us on  or . For anyone interested in becoming a sponsor, please call 601.545.4576.