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Behind the Scenes Tours

Registration for Behind the Scenes Tours is now open!

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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 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.

Tours are limited to 5 people maximum and must be from the same household.

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


Arctic Passage  

Join us to learn about this 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:

  • Fee: $35 per person
  • Age: 10 and up
  • Max 5 people from same household
  • 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

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: $35 per person
  • Age: All ages
  • Max People 5 from same household
  • Tour Highlights:
    • Behind the scenes tour at the Animal Health Center
    • Make enrichment and deliver it to bears

Tropical Trek

Take a step out of Wisconsin and into the Tropical rainforest in our Tropical Trek tour! In this tour you will get to offer tasty treats to some of the aviary residents and learn all about how our keepers take care of the many different animals who call the tropical aviary home. Feed our giant pacu fish and use binoculars to find the many amazing birds who fly through our free flight area. All this and more on this fun tropical adventure.  

Tropical Trek Behind the Scenes Tour Details:

  • Fee: $60 per person
  • Age: 5 and up
  • Max 5 people from same household
  • Tour Highlights:
    • Guided tour of the tropical aviary building
    • Binocular scavenger hunt
    • Offer food to some finned and feathered aviary residents

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!  

*This tour includes making enrichment with peanuts and peanut butter. If you require a modification for this activity, please email education@henryvilaszoo.gov.

On Wisconsin Behind the Scenes Tour Details:

  • Fee: $60 per person
  • Age: 5 and up
  • Max 5 people from same household
  • Tour Highlights:
    • Make enrichment for the badgers
    • Observe the badgers receive enrichment
    • Offer food to the bison

African Adventure 

*Note: African Adventures Tour will begin in June 2021.

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 giraffe, Eddie. 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: $80 per person
  • Age: 5 and up
  • Max 5 people from same household
  • Tour Highlights:
    • Behind the scenes tour at giraffe barn
    • Offer food to giraffe
    • Behind the scenes tour at rhino
    • Rhino encounter

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.


Click Here to Register

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.

If you need to cancel due to COVID-related illness, we will provide a partial or prorated credit, or work with you to reschedule your tour.

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


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.