Don’t be a scaredy cat (or polar bear)

Boo at the Zoo sets the tone for spooky season

Boo at the Zoo is back at the Assiniboine Zoo this October after an eight-year hiatus. (Supplied photo)

Trick-or-treating in the neighbourhood might be the tradition during Halloween, but for Winnipeggers who grew up attending the Assiniboine Park Zoo’s October programming in the past, the highlight was to ignite the scary season with Boo at the Zoo.

Among the event-goers, Brittney Cowan harboured fond childhood memories during this time of the year.

“I was probably 5 or 6 when I last went to Boo at the Zoo. I mostly remember being at the zoo closer to the evening time. It seemed spooky seeing everyone dressed up, and I remember being cold but snuggled up in a wagon. It’s hard to remember all the specifics, but I remember it was a lot of Halloween fun,” Cowan says.

When the announcement was made on social media that the event would be back after it was discontinued eight years ago due to declining attendance, Cowan was instantly excited to relive the good old days alongside friends.

“I hope that they have awesome Halloween decorations, lights and fun little activities for guests to engage in. Also, for that fun spookiness,” she says.

Boo at the Zoo will take place Tuesdays through Sundays from Oct. 8 to 31. Nights run from 5:30 to 10:30 p.m. with tasty treats and interactive activities of all sorts throughout the zoo’s headquarters. Aimed at a wide range of audiences, the attractions promise to be entertaining and less scary during the earlier portion of the evenings and then gradually intensify later at night. 

“The experience is diverse enough that if you want a traditional Halloween with the kids, you can get that. As the night progresses, things start to get a bit spookier, so there are rides, a midway and themed areas,” Assiniboine Park Conservancy public relations communications manager Laura Cabak says.

“The Mystical Fair is themed after the entire experience, but within that there is a Mystical Midway with a carousel, a ferris wheel, slides and a few midway games,” Cabak says.

There are other stops along the way, including the Pumpkin Patch, Spider’s Den, Riddle Maze and Tunnel Home. Each event integrates wizards, witches and warlocks.

Despite most of the programming happening outdoors, the event does require proof of double vaccination for all attendees over 12, as instructed by publichealth orders. Face coverings are required for indoor activities and recommended outdoors if physical distancing isn’t possible. Tickets must be purchased in advance, and attendees must arrive 30 minutes before the time indicated on their passes.

Other than the fun attractions that will set the tone for a magical and nostalgic experience, there will be a house band playing some tunes throughout the night.

For more information on participating in Boo at the Zoo, visit

Published in Volume 76, Number 6 of The Uniter (October 21, 2021)

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