A Holiday Family Adventure: Jungle Bells

two three toes sloths hang on branches on exhibit at animal adventure park
Make your holiday family adventure even more exciting by purchasing a private Sloth Encounter in advance of your visit to Animal Adventure Park. See website link below.

Are you looking for safe, fun family activities you can do this holiday season?*  You can go on a holiday family adventure to Jungle Bells: Holiday Lights at Animal Adventure Park in Harpursville, New York! 

It’s a spectacular holiday event with lights, music, animals and more! (See the website link below for additional information.)

april the giraffe peeks out the window of her exhibit and watches visitors leave
April the Giraffe is a major attraction in all park adventures! However, during Jungle Bells, she and her son, Tajiri, may not be on exhibit outside due to weather conditions. But you can purchase a private visit with them in Barn 2 during Jungle Bells. See the website link below for additional details about advance purchases! The private Giraffe Encounters sell out quickly!

What is Animal Adventure Park?

Animal Adventure Park is the home of April the Giraffe, the endearing momma giraffe that gave birth on YouTube in front of more than a million people from all over the world in April 2017. 

Currently, the world is watching and waiting for another baby giraffe to be born to another momma, Johari, at the park!  Just like in the past, you will be able to watch the birth on YouTube.

The information I am sharing here is based solely on my personal experiences at Animal Adventure Park.  I am not affiliated with the park in any way.

The park has a fee-based sponsorship program that offers behind-the-scenes information about their animals and their ongoing animal conservation, education, and advocacy efforts.  You can learn about the sponsorship program, and so much more on their website and social media pages which are all linked at the end of this post.

You can also find their online gift shop full of beautiful, unique items on their website!  Plus, you can learn more about my personal experiences at Animal Adventure Park by clicking here

You can also read about my other favorite adventure vacations from Maine to Alaska and Virginia to Colorado in my post, Off On Our Next Adventure: Travel in America.

Let’s Go On a Family Adventure to Jungle Bells!

Anytime you visit Animal Adventure Park, you will find a unique and fun experience.  With over 300 animals representing over 100 species, there are always animals who are ready to greet you!  But Jungle Bells: Holiday Lights is a family adventure you will never forget!   With more than a half million lights on display throughout the park this year, and holiday music playing everywhere, you will be have a family adventure that delights all!   

From the park’s website:

“The holiday spirit is alive and shining bright at Animal Adventure! Join us for the largest lights display in the area, hosted on the grounds of Animal Adventure!”  

Where is Animal Adventure Park?

Animal Adventure Park is a wildlife park in Broome County, New York just over the Pennsylvania line. You can travel easily by car and there are multiple hotels in the area for out-of-town guests. The closest hotels are in Binghamton, New York. We prefer to stay a short distance away at a beautiful, affordably-priced Hampton Inn in Vestal, New York.  The hotel staff is very friendly.

What Can You See and Do?

You can visit Santa’s Workshop for photos every Friday and Saturday, and the Snow Sisters every Sunday during the Jungle Bells event.  You can also say GOODBYE to 2020 at the New Years Eve: Frozen In Time Ball Drop on December 31 from 11am-2pm.  This event is for primarily for young children with a ball drop at 12pm.  

The park boasts the best holiday lights in the area and provides everything you would need for family fun during the holidays. There are photo opportunities throughout the park, family care centers for warming up and taking care of your little ones’ needs, friendly staff members who greet you with warm holiday greetings, and of course, animals of all kinds!  

You can even do a drive-through holiday animal adventure on Thursdays if you prefer not to walk the grounds of the park.  The owner, Jordan Patch, is very aware that some people have sensory or special needs that require accommodations to access the park.  He makes adjustments to the lights to support those with special sensory needs on these special evenings. 

Some Photos from our Holiday Adventure

woman feeds april the giraffe carrots during a visit
April the Giraffe LOVES her visitors, especially the ones who bring her carrots! You must purchase carrots for the giraffes directly at the park and they are provided with the private Giraffe Encounter. Here, my daughter, Crystal enjoys feeding April as much as April enjoys her carrots! It is important to note that no outside food or drinks are allowed in the park for the safety of the animals.
park employee plays with odin the arctic wolf through the fence and talks to park visitors about the animal
Meet Odin, a male Arctic Wolf who has been at the park for several years. Here, one of the animal keepers provides enrichment while talking to guests about Odin and his sister, Luna. Since this visit, the wolves have gotten a new enclosure that has glass barriers between them and their visitors – but they are often seen interacting right at the windows with their guests. Another highlight of Jungle Bells and visiting the park during the winter is hearing these magnificent creatures howling throughout the park. Since they are more active during colder weather, they are particularly fun to watch and visit during Jungle Bells adventures!
reindeer on exhibit at animal adventure park show their large velvet antlers
Reindeer, reindeer, and more reindeer are preparing for Christmas Eve. Did you know reindeer lose their antlers every year and grow new, larger ones for the next year? The park usually has fallen antlers on display for guests to hold and feel. Although they look very heavy, they are actually fairly lightweight. Did you know reindeer antlers are covered in a velvety soft fur?
momma daddy and baby giraffe greet guests on the visitor deck at animal adventure park
This is one of my favorite photos from my adventures to Animal Adventure Park! From left to right, you see Tajiri when he was approximately 4 months old, then his momma April the Giraffe, followed by Oliver, the daddy giraffe! Guests are on the deck feeding the adults carrots but Tajiri was too young to eat carrots at this point.
a white lion and his female companion on exhibit at night during jungle bells at animal adventure park
Here, you see Bisa, a female African Lion and Solomon, a rare male white lion. White lions are found primarily in captivity today but a few can still be found in the Timbavati region of South Africa. Another white female lion, Ntusmi, lives with them, as well. When these lions are old enough to mate, Solomon is expected to mate with both of them.

A Spectacular Holiday Event

The Jungle Bells holiday event at Animal Adventure Park includes music, lights, food, animal feeding areas, private animal encounters,** a gift shop, and so much more. As you saw above, even some of Santa’s reindeer can be found visiting the park with their big furry antlers as they get ready for Christmas! 

There are large light tunnels that make great backdrops for special occasions like engagements – YES, there were several engagements in the light tunnels at the park last year! How awesome is that? 

Light displays are setup throughout the park!  The whole Jungle Bells experience leaves guests with heartwarming, magical holiday feelings! It’s an event that is sure to please every member of your family! 

Some Favorite Animals

Be sure to look for some of the favorite animals that are often entertaining visitors this time of year: 

  • Arctic Wolves – Odin and Luna 
  • Black Bears – Harpur and Cole 
  • Rare Timbavati  White Lions – Solomon and Ntsumi 
  • African Lion – Bisa 
  • African Penguins – Tootsie, Toodles, Tux 
  • Camels – Barry, Larry, Gobi, Kira (Bactrim), Lucy, Randy, Kamilla, Kandy (Dromedary)
  • Hyenas – Zuri and Banzai

You can also see sloths, monkeys, goats, llama, lynx, alpacas, peacocks, and many domestic animals who love the winter season!  Oh, and Wanda the water buffalo is due to give birth to a baby anytime now, too! 

The babies are always precious!  I’ve seen alpacas, donkeys, monkeys, reindeer, giraffe, goats, and bison within hours or days after they were born!  Priceless! 

There is a petting area of the park where you can feed the animals and the park has paved walkways for safe movement. 

More Favorite Photos

For holiday family fun, be sure to plan a visit to Animal Adventure Park!  I have shared some of my favorite photos from past years below.*** 

blow up doggy in a red sweater and holiday hat with a young lady standing next to him at the light show
My granddaughter, Kaylie, posed with this adorable light-up doggy (at my request)!
holiday lights on display at jungle bells animal adventure park
Some of the hundred thousand lights on display at Animal Adventure Park last year!
arriving at jungle bells parking lot you see a 15 foot tall lighted giraffe greeting guests
Upon arrival to Animal Adventure Park, you are greeted by a 15 foot tall lighted giraffe peeking over the fence. Once inside, it’s a great photo opportunity!
an original barn at the holiday adventure events
An original barn at the park was formerly the entrance and exit for all guests, as well as the area for concessions and souvenirs. Now the park has a beautiful new building for their gift shop and a separate entrance/exit.
blow up holiday characters playing band instruments at jungle bells
One of the cute light displays at the park. How appropriate are these band characters since the music is played throughout the park from this giraffe deck?
lights at animal adventure park jungle holiday event
More of the hundred thousand lights on display last year at Jungle Bells! I am looking forward to seeing the 500K lights on display this year! That’s FIVE TIMES as many as last year! I am so excited! I will update this post after our visit next month!

More about Animal Adventure Park 

The park is proud to be part of the Species Survival Plan (SSP)!  The SSP seeks to maintain healthy, diverse, and self-sustaining populations of at-risks animals. The program is overseen by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). 

The park is federally licensed by the USDA, ensuring that all animals, animal care, and facilities meet the highest standards in the United States. They are also licensed by the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation and NYS Agriculture & Markets. 

Many of the animals at the park are from rescue situations and/or have been surrendered by private owners. Staff members love to share the animals’ stories with guests!   

My Happy Place

I have been to Animal Adventure Park many times since 2017 and I will continue to go back!  In fact, I spent my 60th birthday at the park! It is truly a lovely place!  

Every guest service employee and animal care staff member is friendly, able and willing to talk about the park and the animals!  The owner visits with guests around the park and shares wonderful stories about each animal!  

family of four feed carrots to baby giraffe during a holiday visit
Our private Giraffe Encounter in Barn 2 for a visit with April and Tajiri! The tall man on the left was our personal chauffeur from Maryland to New York and back – and he happens to be my wonderful husband, too! It was a magical experience for all of us!
two women stand on a feeding platform and feed johari the giraffe carrots
Part of our private Giraffe Encounter last year included visiting with Johari from the loft of Barn 1. Here, my daughter and granddaughter feed Johari carrots. At this point, there was speculation that Johari was pregnant. Giraffe gestation is approximately 15 months and the park was just recently able to confirm she is pregnant and ready to deliver anytime.
two women feed carrots to a female giraffe and talk to her
Here I am having a talk with Johari to see if she will tell me whether she’s pregnant or not! She didn’t reveal ANYTHING…. TO ME OR ANYONE ELSE!
hyena on exhibit at animal adventure park jungle bells
Hyenas are some of the most fascinating animals at the park! They are in constant motion and make all kinds of noises. Hyenas are also very interesting to learn about because they are VERY unique in many ways. I do not honestly know if this is Bonzai or Zuri because I have to see them together in order to recognize a slight difference in their size and coloring.
large female giraffe reaches her tongue out toward visitors to get more carrots
A close-up of Johari! She had only been at the park for 11-months at this point but had settled in nicely and was quite eager to meet guests! She has such beautiful eyelashes!
baby camel greets visitors at the jungle bells holiday lights event in the petting zoo area
When it was time to leave Jungle Bells, we had to say goodbye to Jerry, a baby Bactrim camel who had been in the petting area of Animal Adventure Park during the 2019 season. Since he was almost grown up, he would be moving on to his next home. But he will always be a favorite among park guests because he was playful and entertaining! In 2020, two more baby camels were brought to the petting area for guests to enjoy.
large male giraffe looks out a window of his barn
A magnificent animal – Oliver – the male giraffe who has fathered three babies during his time at Animal Adventure Park. Every time we visit the park, Oliver is LARGER AND LARGER!

Final Thoughts 

Animal Adventure Park is a six-hour drive for my family but we LOVE it!  It is a holiday family adventure that has become a tradition and we look forward to it with great anticipation and excitement!   Special holiday family adventures are part of a happy, healthy lifestyle! They contribute to your social, emotional, and spiritual health!

The holiday lights are spectacular; the animals are healthy and love their visitors; the park employees love their job.  The lights and music bring the spirit of the holidays to your heart.

Be sure to take your camera because you will want to take plenty of pictures!  

You can learn more about my experiences and see additional photos by clicking here to read My Favorite Animal Adventure, another blog post about the park. 

I will be posting updates about Johari’s pregnancy and the birth when updates are available.

You can also read about my other favorite adventure vacations here.

Love to All!  ~ Susan

*Animal Adventure Park complies with all COVID-19 regulations in accordance with New York mandates and CDC recommendations.  Their employees wear masks, they social distance, they have marked walking paths to provide guests with social distancing guidelines, and they thoroughly clean regularly. 

**Private animal encounters must be purchased in advance from the park website. 

***All photos in this post are mine.  I am sharing for the purpose of enhancing my animal park experience only.  

Animal Adventure Park Website: https://theanimaladventurepark.com/Page/home

April the Giraffe Website: https://www.aprilthegiraffe.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AnimalAdventurePark

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/animaladventurepark/

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