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Early Childhood Programs


Join us for a fun new 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.)

Stroller Safari registration for Fall 2022 is now open!

Click Here to Register


Join us on select Wednesday and Thursday 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.

Preschool Pride registration now open for Fall 2022!

Click Here to Register

Join us on Friday or Saturday mornings from 9 to 10 am.
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 and early registration.

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 their adult attend these classes.


Giraffing Me Crazy

4/1 or 4/2

Giraffes are a beloved animal at our zoo and around the world! Let’s learn about them together as we pretend to be giraffes in the African savannah searching for leaves on the tallest trees. You will get to take a craft giraffe home with you and of course we will go observe our tallest zoo resident.. 

On the Animal Trail

4/8 or 4/9

There’s a mystery afoot! Can we find out who left behind these pawprints? Let’s learn all about animal tracks and make some trails of our own. We will learn and see how animals move and leave behind trails in the mud or snow and have lots of fun along the way.

Animal Hoot-en-neigh-ny

4/15 or 4/16

Hoop and holler at this animal noise hoot-en-neigh-ny! We will sing and growl as we learn about the many noises that animals can make, it’s bound to be a roaring good time.

Zoo-per Hero

4/22 or 4/23

Have you ever wanted to be a superhero? Well you can be a zoo-per hero at the Henry Vilas Zoo! Join us on our earth day adventure as we learn how we can save animals from extinction, and help your favorite zoo friend! Do you have what it takes to be a zoo-per hero?

The Many Shapes at the Zoo

4/29 or 4/30

What do a lion’s mane, a sleeping snake, and spot on a harbor seal all have in common? They are all circles! There are so many shapes in the animal world, let’s learn about them as we explore and play!

Animal Tales

5/6 or 5/7

It’s a tale of many tails as we learn about the many stories behind some of our animals here! Butt don’t worry we will have lots of free play and activities to do as you learn and play on this hiney history lesson. 

Mane Attraction

5/13 or 5/14

Let’s learn about one of the mane attractions here at our zoo… the Lions! We will grow as a pride as we learn how lions survive! Can you hunt for a gazelle or roar louder than your other pride-mates? We’ll find out on our fun safari adventure!

Big and Small

5/20 or 5/21

Some animals are very small while others are VERY BIG and they are all really cool! Join us as we learn about all things big and small. We will meet some small friends, and look at some very big ones and do lots of playing and learning along the way.As the weather gets chillier, and the nights get longer let’s learn about what animals do to prepare for the ice and snow.  


5/27 or 5/28

Let’s get movin’ on our zoo animal adventure. Slither like a snake and hop like a frog, run like a cheetah and wag your tail like a dog! We are learning all about how animals move their bodies to help them navigate their wild homes.

Click Here to Register