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Early Childhood Programs


Stroller Safari registration is now open!

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Join us for a fun musical program for our youngest zoo visitors!

Stroller Safari is a 30 minute guided tour around the zoo for young learners and their adult. Each session will begin with a familiar nursery song before touring the zoo with one of our knowledgeable educators. (This program does not include any animal encounters or behind-the-scenes experiences.)


Join us on select Tuesday and Wednesday mornings at 9:30 am.

Stroller Safaris are designed for children 0 to 2 years old and their adult.

$5 for each child/adult pair (or for each stroller) per class
Preregistration required.


Fall Preschool Pride registration is now open!

Welcome to Preschool Pride at Henry Vilas Zoo! Like a lion pride that cares for a group of cubs, we are excited to spend some time with you and your little one! Preschool Pride is a one hour parent-child program where we make new discoveries about animals through play and imagination.

Waiting List availability!

Due to increased demand for Preschool programming, we now have waiting lists. If you see that a session you are interested in is full, add your preschooler to the waiting list by clicking the ‘register’ button and filling out the form.

If we see there is enough interest in a particular session, we may be able to open another, later class on the same day.

Adding your preschooler to the waiting list does not guarantee a spot in the program. There is no cost to be on the waiting list. You will not be charged until you accept a spot in the program.

Click Here to Register

Join us on Friday or Saturday mornings from 9 to 10 am.
Note: Certain Saturdays have an additional 10:15 to 11:15 class.
Each week has a new theme.

Preschool Pride is designed for children 2 to 4 years old.

$18 per class
Henry Vilas Zoo Members at the Family level or above receive a 10% discount.

Zoo Conservation Club Members receive early registration and a 10% discount on Preschool Pride programs.

Not yet a member? Sign up for our Conservation Club membership today!

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


Our Preschool Pride program is child-centered and play-based, in line with the current research on early childhood education. That means:

  • We acknowledge that in early childhood, the empathy children feel for animals is best nurtured through play
  • Children learn the most when they have options when it comes to activities they want to participate in
  • We recognize the importance of imaginary play in young children
  • We encourage you to follow your child’s lead and join in the child-directed play
  • We emphasize building on children’s curiosity and listening to their questions about nature. Sharing information in this context helps children make sense of the world and helps them feel ownership over their new discoveries


Here is what a typical class looks like:

  • Welcome: We welcome children to the class with introductions, expectations, a song, and a thematic story.
  • Free play: Children can choose to explore our animal-themed activities relating to the topic of the day, including: toys, sensory bins, games, and a craft project. This time is purposely unstructured to allow for exploratory and inquiry-based learning.
  • Zoo or animal exploration: Depending on the topic, we’ll either explore a part of the zoo that relates to our theme for the day, or we’ll meet an education ambassador animal in the classroom.
  • Wrap-up: We’ll conclude our time together by singing our preschool song and reviewing the highlights of the day.


Our classes are limited to 10 children. One adult can bring up to two registered children. We offer a discount for siblings and for Zoo members.
Due to limited space in the classroom, we kindly ask that only registered participants and one adult attend these classes.


Busy Trees

4/7 or 4/8

Let’s take to the trees! Trees provide shade, food, and homes for many different animals. We will learn all about how animals, climb, hide, peck, and crawl around in trees.

What’s Cooking

4/14 or 4/15

Can an orangutan eat a hamburger? Could a snake snack on some strawberries? Join us to learn all about what animals eat and how zookeepers prepare food for our animals!

Peek a Boo!

4/21 or 4/22

Peek a boo, where are you? Animals can be great at hiding when they don’t want to be found. Let’s see who we can find at the zoo today!

Farm Friends

4/28 or 4/29

Cock-a-doodle-doo! Roosters, chickens, and goats too! We’ll get to feed our barnyard friends, and play and explore til’ the cows come home.

Animal Doctors

5/5 or 5/6

What happens when a bison gets a belly ache or a lion gets a sore throat? Just like you, they go to the doctor! In this class we will learn how the veterinary team takes care of our animals here at the zoo! We will get to explore the Animal Health Center and have fun playing pretend caring for all the animals.

The Nose Knows

5/12 or 5/13

Animals have all sorts of super sniffers, and we will learn all about them as we sniff out more information about animals’ sense of smell. 

Animal Artists

5/19 or 5/20

Animals have inspired some amazing art and can be pretty crafty themselves! We are going to paint, craft, draw and sculpt animals and meet an animal artist!

Wiggly Worms

5/26 or 5/27

Let’s get digging! There’s a whole world beneath our feet and many fun animals to meet! We are going underground to find some worms and meet some critters whose favorite food loves to squirm.  

Amazing Metamorphosis

6/2 or 6/3

From frog to tadpole or caterpillar to butterfly there are some magical transformations in the animal world and we are going to learn all about them!

Click Here to Register