Pittsburgh Zoo illuminates exhibits with cultural experience

Andrew Cummings | multimedia editor. Pulling inspiration from cultural technique, the Asian Lantern Festival lit a new perspective to the zoo.

Mia Lubrani | staff writer

Oct. 7, 2021

The Asian Lantern Festival is a celebratory experience hosted at the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium Thursdays-Saturdays from 6:30-10:30 p.m. Until Oct. 30, everyone has the chance to head over to Highland Park to see what the zoo has to offer.

On select days, the lanterns start to glow around dusk, and visitors can go on a stroll of the winding pathways. The Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium’s website says that their steel and silk sculptures share three themes: the animals at the zoo, the zoo’s global species conservation partnerships as well as Asian culture. These massive sculptures, along with the lanterns and performances, highlight the zoo’s cultural diversity and help to foster an intercultural intelligence.

Hailey Russell, a business major, visited last Thursday and said the lantern festival was an interactive experience with a children’s karate feature and huge illuminated animals around every corner. 

“This local, community-driven experience is really for everyone,” Russell said.

DSF Charitable Foundation, a Pittsburgh-based organization, has given educational, health and humanitarian grants, and is presenting this prolonged event for the local community to spread cultural awareness. According to their website, Pittsburgh Zoo said that this event is to shine light on conservation, community and culture.

In addition to the cultural features, animals are still out and about, including the tiger and Komodo dragon. Although most indoor events are closed, this outdoor exhibit has animals, lanterns, sculptures and performers. Regional and cultural performances rotate nightly, so each experience is immensely unique. 

Alethea Calandra, a junior political science major, said she enjoyed the unique variety of ornaments and sculptures, especially the ones that seemed to appear in a different light each time you walked by them.

“My favorite part was this big chameleon that would actually change colors. They had so many different animals, and it’s crazy that all the sculptures were handmade,” Calandra said. 

The lantern festival began on Aug. 14; since then, they have hosted families, couples and groups of friends throughout the park. Because of the continual crowds, the zoo is illuminated nightly with handcrafted lanterns decorated with wildlife. 

Especially for children, this experience is educational, yet captivating. Children under the age of two can get in for free. Any kid above the age of two will cost $16.95, with adults costing $19.95.

Not only is this event a walk-thru, it is also a drive-thru.

A walk-thru ticket is valid for the entire night, so The Duke suggests occupying your time with every aspect displayed at the zoo.

This brand-new experience will happen on Oct. 20 and Oct. 27. The hour-long drive will cost about $60 per vehicle, so we would recommend taking a full car.

Jackson Jewell, a freshman chemical engineering major who went in August, said the festival was much more entertaining than he anticipated.

“I went along with it, but surprisingly it was pretty cool and fun to walk through,” Jewell said. 

The Asian Lantern Festival ends on Saturday Oct. 30, so The Duke suggests everyone makes it a priority to see this beautiful event as soon as possible.