Saturday, Dec. 1 was a rare warm weathered day in December and a few people took advantage of it to go to the Virginia Zoo to kick off the holidays.In the winter months, the zoo misses opportunities to bring in visitors due to a general dislike of being outside in cold weather. But last weekend, the zoo tried a new approach by having a holiday themed marketplace. They sold animal-inspired ornaments, with the profits going to help the animals over the winter and to fund the zoo’s new Animal Wellness Campus and renovations to the Zoo Farm.The new Animal Wellness Campus will help the zoo continue to provide optimal care for the animals and deliver an educational experience, allowing visitors to observe animal treatment, surgery and laboratory rooms, as well as an animal diet kitchen. The renovations to the Zoo Farm will ensure the zoo continues to provide animal residents with the highest quality of life possible, according to a press release.There was a decorative display of ornaments at booths set-up on the Compass Plaza. There were more holiday gift options inside of the gift shop for family and friends to receive. This event also featured door prizes, special seasonal offers, train gift packs and animal art.During they marketplace, the zoo was also promoting a different gift, the backstage pass.The zoo is offering the unique opportunity to go “backstage” for a day. You can arrange a meet and greet with one of the lions, giraffes, kangaroo, hog or bears. Patrons can spend the day getting to know a zoo keeper, learning how they maintain the animals and being able to feed and spend some time with the animal of your choice. Prices for the backstage pass range from $100 to $250.