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Zoo preparing for holiday celebration

File photo The Christmas at the Zoo celebration begins Tuesday evening and runs 5-7 p.m. each evening through Dec. 18

The Hillcrest Park Zoo is getting set for its annual presentation of animals, lights and Santa Claus.

The Christmas at the Zoo celebration is set for next week. It begins Tuesday evening, and runs 5-7 p.m. each evening through Dec. 18, according to Zoo Director Herschel Arnold.

Arnold said plenty of animals will be on display, and there will be free cider, hot chocolate and cookies. Also, the zoo is eliminating admission charges each night.

“Everything is free,” Arnold said. “We do charge if you want a picture with Santa or the nativity scene, but everything is free.”

The event is in its fourth year.

Jay the Giraffe, the most famous new resident, won’t be featured, but Arnold said the zoo’s two giraffes would be within sight of attendants.

“What we do is we light up the first half of the zoo,” Arnold said. “We have a few of the animals on display during this time. It’s not the whole zoo, it’s the first part.”

The program alternates throughout the five days. Santa will make a trio of appearances — Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday — with some of the zoo’s smaller animals.

For the second year in a row, a Nativity scene with baby animals will be offered. This will be for the Wednesday and Friday sessions.

Also, Arnold said, Clovis Area Transit Service will do a nightly light tour. The zoo will serve as the pickup and dropoff point, and buses will take residents to some of the best light displays in the city.