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Behind the Scenes Tours

New this fall! Go behind the scenes at Henry Vilas Zoo!

Come get a closer look at how we care for our animals at your Henry Vilas Zoo! Sign up for one of four 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.

Register today!

Want to schedule for a group and don’t see a time that works? Contact us at education@henryvilaszoo.gov.

We have four different tours to choose from. Pick your favorite, or sign up to do all four!


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 get the take a tour of our animal health center, have the opportunity to offer food to some of our underwater friends, make some special treats for the bears and see them enjoy it! 

Be a Zookeeper Behind the Scenes Tour Details:

  • Fee: $25 member/ $35 non-member
  • Age: 1 to 100 (no fee for children under 1)
  • Tour Highlights:
    • Behind the scenes tour at the Animal Health Center
    • Make enrichment for bears
    • Deliver enrichment to polar bear

R.O.U.S. (Rodents of Unusual Size)

Come meet some of the cutest rodents at your Henry Vilas Zoo. In this amazing behind the scenes experience you will get to be up close with our North American porcupines, Flora and Fauna, and with our capybara, Shrek and Fiona. In this tour we will go behind the scenes to see how our animal care staff takes care of these animals, and go inside their enclosures to meet them up close.  **Tour not available in the winter.**

R.O.U.S. Behind the Scenes Tour Details:

  • Fee: $35 member/ $45 non-member
  • Age: 5 to 100
  • Tour Highlights:
    • Behind the scenes tour at the porcupine kitchen
    • Go in porcupine enclosure and scatter their diet
    • Go in capybara enclosure and offer food
    • Photo opportunity with the capybaras

Gentle Giants

Join us on a tour to come meet some gentle giants here at your Henry Vilas Zoo. We will be able to learn about how our animal care staff cares for our giant aldabra tortoises, Rick and Tom and our bison, Mama and Beefcake. You will be able to get up close and feel the shell of our giant tortoises, as well as offer some tasty lettuce leaves to our bison. 

Gentle Giants Behind the Scenes Tour Details:

  • Fee: $50 member/ $60 non-member
  • Age: 5 to 100
  • Tour Highlights:
    • Enter aldabra tortoise enclosure and have an opportunity to touch the shell
    • Photo opportunity with aldabra tortoise
    • Behind the scenes tour at bison barn
    • Offer food to bison

African Adventure 

Learn about some of the largest animals at the zoo and go behind the scenes to see how we take care of them. We will be able to adventure into our giraffe barn and present food to our amazing giraffes Eddie and Wally. After that we will get to meet our incredible white rhino, Harmon, and learn what you can do to help protect rhinos in the wild.  

African Adventure Behind the Scenes Tour Details:

  • Fee: $70 member/ $80 non-member
  • Age: 5 to 100
  • Tour Highlights:
    • Behind the scenes tour at giraffe barn
    • Offer food to giraffe
    • Photo opportunity in front of giraffe
    • Behind the scenes tour at rhino
    • Opportunity to touch the rhino

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 due to weather or unforeseen circumstances you will be credited the amount paid to use on any other zoo tour or educational program.

If, on the other hand, you choose to cancel you may receive a credit to use on any other zoo tour or educational program. The amount of the credit will depend on when a cancellation is made:

  • Cancellations up to 72 hours before the tour will be credited the full amount paid.
  • Cancellations up to 48 hours before the tour will be credited half of the amount paid.
  • Cancellations less than 24 hours prior to the tour, or if participants do not show up for the tour, will not receive a refund or credit.

All cancellations must be made via email to education@henryvilaszoo.gov.


Register today!

10% of the proceeds of all Behind the Scenes Tours are donated to Henry Vilas Zoo’s conservation partners.