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Behind the Scenes Tours

Registration is now open for March tours!

Check back in mid-March for registration for April tours!

Go behind the scenes at Henry Vilas Zoo!

Come get a closer look at how we care for the animals at your Henry Vilas Zoo! Sign up for one of our Behind the Scenes tours and get to see an area of the zoo normally only seen by the animals and keepers. Gain some insider knowledge about our zoo, our animals, and our conservation work around the world.

Scroll down to learn more about the specific tours, age requirements, and group size!
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Looking for a program for larger groups? Check out our Critter Connection programs!

Behind the Scenes Tours are offered seasonally March through November.

Due to animal schedules and staff capacity, tours open on a month-by-month basis and are limited to the dates and times listed for each month.

We offer public and private tours

Public tours are priced per participant. There may be other guests joining your small group up to a maximum of 7 people total. Public tours are offered more frequently.

Private tours are just for your group up to 5 people. The price is per tour, and does not change based on the number of guests in your party.

We have different tour topics to choose from. Pick your favorite, or sign up to do them all!

Be a Zookeeper

Ever wanted to step into the boots of one of our amazing animal care staff at your Henry Vilas Zoo? Well now is your chance! In this tour we will go behind the scenes and learn about how we take care of the many animals here at the zoo and our conservation efforts to help animals across the globe. You will take a tour of our animal health center, then make some special treats for the bears and see them enjoy it! 

Be a Zookeeper Behind the Scenes Tour Details:

  • Cost:
    • Public Tour: $25 per person
    • Private Tour: $150 for up to 5 people
  • Age: All ages
    • Children must be accompanied by a registered adult
  • Tour Highlights:
    • Behind the scenes tour at the Animal Health Center
    • Make enrichment and deliver it to bears

Conservation Connection

Embark on a conservation adventure at the Henry Vilas Zoo! This tour invites you to explore behind the scenes, starting with a peek into our Animal Health Center, where wildlife wellness takes center stage. Then, wander through our serene Songbird Garden, and get the chance to plant a native plant to support local habitats. Finally, meet one of our captivating creatures, learning about their role in global conservation efforts. Join us as we learn about care, conservation and you!

Conservation Connection Behind the Scenes Tour Details:

  • Cost:
    • Public Tour: $25 per person
  • Age: 3 and up
    • Children must be accompanied by a registered adult
    • While ages 3 and up are welcome on this tour, please note, it is an hour long guided walking tour
  • Tour Highlights:
    • Tour and go Behind the Scenes in our Animal Health Center
    • Tour the NEW Songbird Garden
      • Plant a pollinator friendly plant to take home with you!
    • Offer enrichment to our sandhill crane

NOTE: These are currently the only Behind the Scenes tours available at Henry Vilas Zoo. We do not have the capacity to provide for individual or specialized requests.

Cancellation Policy

We believe in giving our animals choices, and cannot guarantee animals will present themselves to be touched or fed. If an animal chooses not to participate, or does not present itself to be fed or touched, you will not receive a refund.

If a tour needs to be cancelled by the zoo due to extreme weather or unforeseen circumstances we will reschedule your tour or provide a refund.

If you choose to cancel more than one week prior to the tour, we can reschedule your tour.

If you choose to cancel less than one week prior to the tour, or if participants do not show up for the tour, we will not be able to reschedule or provide a refund.

All cancellations must be made via email to

10% of the proceeds of all Behind the Scenes Tours are donated to Henry Vilas Zoo’s conservation partners, and 15% goes directly to purchasing fresh browse for our animals.

For questions, please email us at or call 608-283-1610.