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Early Childhood Programs


We have a new program offering 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 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 per class
Preregistration required.


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.

We are thrilled to bring Preschool Pride back to the zoo for Fall 2021!

Click Here to Register

Click here if you would like to be added to our waiting list.

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!

Join us on Friday or Saturday mornings from 9 to 10 am.
Each week has a new theme.

Due to demand, we have added two additional classes at 10:15 on Saturday, 10/2 and 10/9. Click here to register!

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

$15 per class
Henry Vilas Zoo Members at the Family level or above receive a 10% discount and early registration.

Masks are required for all participants

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 8 children. One adult can bring up to two siblings. 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 their adult attend these classes.


Animal ABC’s

9/3 or 9/4

From Aardvark to Zebra, zoo animals are great at teaching us our ABC’s. Sing along with me as we explore the alphabet through sensory play and animal adventures. 

Prairie Pals

9/10 or 9/11

Learn about the animals whose home is on the range. We will play in the prairie and discover the critters, big and small, that make this habitat so unique. 

123 Count with Me

9/17 or 9/18

1 crane, 2 bears, 3 seals.. .There is so much to count at the zoo! Join us as we count along with our favorite animals and discover fun ways to learn and play. 

Bird Buddies

9/24 or 9/25

Let’s take flight with some of our feathered friends and learn all about what makes a bird, a bird! 

Forest Friends

10/1 or 10/2

Let’s meet some friends who frolic in the forest. Find your path through the woods and play pretend on our fantastic forest adventure.

Hard and Soft

10/8 or 10/9

Fluffy, fuzzy, rough and smooth, animals can be so many different shapes and textures. Let’s feel around to see who we will meet. 

Long Winter’s Nap

10/15 or 10/16

Get bundled up and ready for a loooong nap. So many animals can sleep through winter, let’s learn all about it. 

Cooling Down

10/22 or 10/23

As the weather gets chillier, and the nights get longer let’s learn about what animals do to prepare for the ice and snow.  

Warming Up

10/29 or 10/30

The weather may be getting colder but we can warm up in our tropical aviary, and see what happens in the rainforest.

Click Here to Register

Click here if you would like to be added to our waiting list.