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People Magazine: Jungle Island transforms into Luminosa lantern festival

The popular wildlife sanctuary and botanical garden is spending millions to expand into a diversified eco-adventure park ideal for families and children of all ages.

There may not be a human-size mouse on site, but the lemurs, kangaroos and flamingos know how to keep celebrity guests and their kids entertained at this under-the-radar Florida attraction.

Eva Mendes and Ryan Gosling have taken their daughters, Esmeralda and Amada, on a private tour of Miami’s Jungle Island, where they touched the white collar of an Andean condor, interacted with two-toed sloths, fed alligators and met Ace, a Vietnamese pot-bellied pig.

Salma Hayek and her daughter Valentina enjoyed a VIP walking tour of the 18-acre destination where they saw hundreds of exotic birds and animals, even visiting with a troop of kangaroos.

Beyonce and Jay-Z rented Jungle Island for their daughter Blue Ivy’s second birthday so family and friends could hang out with the animals and tour the gardens.

And Shakira and her two children, Milan and Sasha, played with endangered lemurs from Madagascar, petted Australian red kangaroos and fed Aldabra turtles from the Seychelles island nation during their VIP tour.

“Celebrities love coming here because we give them anonymity and they blend in,” Dr. Jason Chatfield, Vice President of Zoological Operations for Jungle Island, tells PEOPLE. “They enjoy the immersion with some of the world’s most extraordinary animals like sloths, capuchin monkeys, parrots, penguins, flamingos and goats.”

But now, there is an added treat for the holiday season! Jungle Island has just introduced Luminosa, Festival of Lights, a magical look at the night jungle filled with dozens of colorful Chinese lantern exhibits bringing the joys of the park to life.

In partnership with Zigong Lantern Group and China Lantern International, Jungle Island is featuring several dozen 20-foot whimsical lanterns, exquisitely handcrafted from colorful silk by 30 Chinese artisans and lit by more than one million LED lights. (All lanterns are made of water-proof and fire-resistant silk materials—11 miles worth— supported by steel frames.)

Luminosa takes guests on a memorable journey through light across 13 lush acres of winding, covered trails, thickly flowered hedges and smooth garden-mounds.