Wildlights promises to be brighter than ever -- with fewer lights.

Wildlights promises to be brighter than ever -- with fewer lights.

The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium used only LED lights for this year's annual holiday celebration, which starts Friday.

The switch enabled the zoo to greatly reduce the number of lights in the display. While Wildlights once included more than two million lights, this year's count is closer to one million.

The zoo switched half of its incandescent bulbs for Wildlights last year and replaced the rest for this year's event, with help from American Electric Power.

Zoo spokeswoman Jennifer Wilson said the LED lights use less power, but are brighter than the incandescent bulbs that the zoo previously used.

"In 2007, the incandescent lights used 1,000 amps of power," she said. "In that same area when we switched to LED lights, we used 98 amps in the same amount of time."

LED lights save money and help the zoo with its mission of conservation.

"Part of our mission is conserving anywhere, whether it be wildlife or here at the zoo," she said. "Going greener for Wildlights is part of the mission."

The LED lights are also more efficient.

"When we used incandescent lights we put up millions. LEDs are brighter so you get the effect of having that many lights but using fewer bulbs," she said. "We still have over a million lights."

Santa is being moved from his usual Wildlights home at the Water's Edge Pavilion to the new Holiday Encounters Village, which will feature replica memorabilia from classic and contemporary holiday movies and "A Pop-Culture Christmas," an animated holiday light show set to carols. Santa will be available for visits and photos through Dec. 23.

"Obviously after that he'll be busy," Wilson said.

Also making its debut this year will be "Animals on Safari: Holidays at the Camp," at Jungle Jack's Landing. Wilson said the Animals on Safari show, which began over the summer with more than 100 rescued cats and dogs, will take on a holiday twist.

Families also can catch entertainment from the Magical Timbernacle Forest Chorus, an animatronic choir of arbors sponsored by Disney on Ice. "Rhythms around the Watering Hole" will return this year with a nine-minute light and music show that runs every half hour beginning at 5 p.m.

On Dec. 5, animals around the zoo will be given wrapped treats for Santa Paws from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., and Jack Hanna's Home for the Holidays will take the stage at 6:15 and 8:15 p.m.

Colo, the oldest gorilla living at a zoo, will celebrate her 53rd birthday on Dec. 22.

The zoo also will hold New Year's celebrations Dec. 26 to Jan. 2.

Wildlights runs from Nov. 20 to Jan. 2 and can be viewed from 5 to 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 5 to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Wildlights is closed Nov. 26, Dec. 24 and 25.

Admission to the zoo is $12 for adults and $7 for children ages 2 to 9 and seniors 60 and older.