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Behind the Scenes Tours

October 2023 Behind the Scenes Tours are now open for registration!

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.

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

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

Arctic Passage

Join us to learn about the history of HVZ, where we’ve come from and how we’ve grown. Learn all about the Arctic Passage facility that houses our amazing polar bears, grizzly gals, and stupendous seals and learn all about how we take great care of these incredible animals.  

*This tour includes spaces that will be dark and/or loud, and may include narrow or tight passages. This tour may not be suitable for those with sensory or mobility issues.

Arctic Passage Behind the Scenes Tour Details:

  • Cost:
    • Public Tour: $25 per person
  • Age: 10 and up
    • Children must be accompanied by a registered adult
  • Tour Highlights:
    • Behind the scenes tour of historic bear tunnel
    • View polar bear exhibit from behind the scenes
    • Tour pump room and learn about our extensive water-filtration system

On Wisconsin

Goooo Badgers!! Let’s learn about some animals who call Wisconsin home! We’ll inspire our badgers by making them a special treat, then hear a story or two about how our residents came to live here at the zoo. At the end, we will offer a treat to our amazing bison who are perfectly adapted to live in our cold weather and learn more about how HVZ helps animals both locally and globally!

On Wisconsin Behind the Scenes Tour Details:

  • Cost:
    • $60 per person
  • Age: 5 and up
    • Children must be accompanied by a registered adult
  • Tour Highlights:
    • Make badger treat/toy
    • Observe badger receive enrichment
    • Offer food to the bison

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.