ZooLights ends season with free New Year's Eve train rides

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Zoo's 2012 light display draws second-highest attendance in event's 25-year history

ZooLights, the Oregon Zoo's winter wonderland of sparkling lights and colorful hues, closes out one of its most successful years ever Monday, Dec. 31. To celebrate, officials are treating visitors to a free New Year's Eve ride on the light-bedecked zoo train.

ZooLights, presented by Fred Meyer with support from Toyota, has become a local holiday tradition over the past quarter-century. Nearly 180,000 visitors have flocked to the zoo to take in the colorful light displays this year — the second-highest total in the event's 25-year history.

Visitors on New Year's Eve can enjoy free train rides during ZooLights starting at 5 p.m. The ZooLights train can accommodate around 4,500 riders per night, so prospective riders are encouraged to arrive early.

ZooLights hours for Dec. 31 are 5-8 p.m. Admission is $10 for adults, $8.50 for seniors, $7 for children and free for children 2 and under. ZooLights-goers who ride MAX to the zoo can receive $3 off their admission fee with proof of TriMet ridership.

Dec. 31 is not only the last night of ZooLights this season, it is also the last time the Washington Park and Zoo Railway will be operating on the "Zoo Loop." The railway will be rerouted to make way for the expanded Elephant Lands habitat, which begins construction in 2013.