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The Phoenix Zoo has a variety of educational programs designed to connect children of all ages with the natural world. Our programs are offered for children starting at 18 months old and are designed to support their growing needs and abilities. We truly hope that your child will grow up with the Zoo! Many programs offer opportunities for parents or caregivers and children to learn and explore together, making it an experience for the entire family. See our many program offerings below and join our programs family today.

Interested in learning more about programs at the Zoo? Sign up for Phoenix Zoo Family Programs Newsletter!

Farm Tots (Ages 18 months – 2 years)

Fun on the farm is what this program is all about! Designed around introducing our youngest animal lovers to some of the friendliest animals at the Zoo, Farm Tots teaches children the basics of animal respect and care. Free-play, activities and up-close animal encounters are all part of the fun with each month focusing on one of our farm animals.

Take home a plush animal as a keepsake of your Zoo experience for only $6 if ordered when making reservations.

For children 18 months – 2 years and a caregiver

Program Topics:

  • October – December 2014
  • January – May 2015

October: Horse

Dates and Times
October 10, 2014, 10 – 10:45 a.m.
October 11, 2014, 10 – 10:45 a.m.

Program Fee
Member Adult/Child Pair: $15
General Adult/Child Pair: $35
Register Here

Who says hay is just for horses? Join us for an exciting morning of learning and an up-close horse encounter during our Farm Tots Horse program. Children join their caregivers in free-play, horse-themed activities and a unique opportunity for a one-on-one encounter with the “mane” animal attraction of this program!

Guests meet their instructor at Harmony Farm and get started on fun activities right away. Once finished with the activities, we head over to the horse barn and spend time learning and playing in the horse play yard. But the fun does not stop there! Guests have the opportunity to enter the horse barn to meet one of our horses.

November: Chicken/Turkey

Dates and Times
November 7, 2014, 10 – 10:45 a.m.
November 8, 2014, 10 – 10:45 a.m.

Program Fee
Member Adult/Child Pair: $15
General Adult/Child Pair: $35
Register Here


Cluck, cluck! Gobble, gobble! What is a wattle? What is our chickens’ favorite food? There’s a lot of excitement down at Harmony Farm and you can learn the answers to these questions and many others when you join in the fun by attending the Farm Tots Chicken and Turkey program. Children join their caregivers for a morning of free-play activities geared toward all things chicken and turkey, followed by a unique, up-close opportunity to meet some of our fowl friends!

Guests meet their instructor at Harmony Farm and get started on fun activities right away. Once finished with the activities, we head over to the chicken and turkey coops and observe these friendly birds. Want even more up-close encounters? This program also includes the exclusive opportunity to help prepare breakfast for the chickens and deliver it right in the chicken coop!

December: Goat

Dates and Times
December 5, 2014, 10 – 10:45 a.m.
December 6, 2014, 10 – 10:45 a.m.

Program Fee
Member Adult/Child Pair: $15
General Adult/Child Pair: $35
Register Here

Sure, we all know them as a favorite animal on the farm, but what exactly makes goats so special? Join us for the Farm Tots Goat program and have a blast learning about goats and playing at the farm. Children join their caregivers for a morning of free-play goat activities, followed by the unique opportunity to enter our private stall and meet a goat!

Guests meet their instructor at Harmony Farm and get started on fun activities right away. Once finished with the activities, we head over to the petting zoo and spend some time interacting with gregarious goats before a special one-on-one meeting with one of the farm’s favorite goats.

January: Sheep

Dates and Times
January 9, 2015, 10 – 10:45 a.m.
January 10, 2015, 10 – 10:45 a.m.

Program Fee
Member Adult/Child Pair: $15
General Adult/Child Pair: $35
Register Here

Are you feeling a little sheepish? There are plenty of sheeply shenanigans going on down at Harmony Farm and you can join in on the fun by joining us for the Farm Tots Sheep program! Here you learn all about sheep, while playing at the farm. Children join their caregivers for a morning of free-play sheep activities, followed by the unique opportunity to meet one of our wooly sheep friends!

Guests meet their instructor at Harmony Farm and get started on fun activities right away. Once finished with the activities, we head over to the petting zoo for interaction with the farm’s sheep.

February: Farm Visitors

Dates and Times
February 13, 2015, 10 – 10:45 a.m.
February 14, 2015, 10 – 10:45 a.m.

Program Fee
Member Adult/Child Pair: $15
General Adult/Child Pair: $35
Register Here

What types of animals visit the farm at night? Have you ever heard an owl hoot? How many legs does a spider have? Are there un-invited guests that also call the farm home? By joining us at the Farm Tots Farm Visitors program, you learn about farm animals which you might not even know are there! Children join their caregivers for a morning of free-play activities, followed by the unique opportunity to meet and touch some of these secret farm visitors.

Guests meet their instructor at Harmony Farm and get started on fun activities right away. Once finished with the activities, we’ll get up-close with some of these animal visitors.

March: Horse

Dates and Times
March 13, 2015, 10 – 10:45 a.m.
March 14, 2015, 10 – 10:45 a.m.

Program Fee
Member Adult/Child Pair: $15
General Adult/Child Pair: $35
Register Here

Who says hay is just for horses? Join us for an exciting morning of learning and an up-close horse encounter during our Farm Tots Horse program. Children join their caregivers in free-play, horse-themed activities and a unique opportunity for a one-on-one encounter with the “mane” animal attraction of this program!

Guests meet their instructor at Harmony Farm and get started on fun activities right away. Once finished with the activities, we head over to the horse barn and spend time learning and playing in the horse play yard. But the fun does not stop there! Guests have the opportunity to enter the horse barn to meet one of our horses.

April: Cow

Dates and Times
April 10, 2015, 10 – 10:45 a.m.
April 11, 2015, 10 – 10:45 a.m.

Program Fee
Member Adult/Child Pair: $15
General Adult/Child Pair: $35
Register Here

Have you ever felt a cow’s nose? Was it smooth and slippery or sticky and slimy? Do cows really say moo? Join us for the Farm Tots Cow program and you learn all about cows while playing at the farm! Children join their caregivers for a morning of free-play cow activities, followed by the unique opportunity to meet our bodacious bovines!

Guests meet their instructor at Harmony Farm and get started on fun activities right away. Once finished with the activities, we head over to the petting zoo to meet our cows. Want even more up-close encounters? This program also includes the unique opportunity to assist keepers when we “browse the cows.”

May: Goat

Dates and Times
May 8, 2015, 10 – 10:45 a.m.
May 9, 2015, 10 – 10:45 a.m.

Program Fee
Member Adult/Child Pair: $15
General Adult/Child Pair: $35
Register Here

Sure, we all know them as a favorite animal on the farm, but what exactly makes goats so special? Join us for the Farm Tots Goat program and have a blast learning about goats and playing at the farm. Children join their caregivers for a morning of free-play goat activities, followed by the unique opportunity to enter our private stall and meet a goat!

Guests meet their instructor at Harmony Farm and get started on fun activities right away. Once finished with the activities, we head over to the petting zoo and spend some time interacting with gregarious goats before a special one-on-one meeting with one of the farm’s favorite goats.

Breakfast with the Animals (Ages 2 – 5 years)

Would you like to learn what a giraffe eats for breakfast? Interested in watching a warthog wake up in the morning? What about feeding a giant tortoise? Join us for Early Childhood Animal Breakfasts and YOU CAN! Enjoy a light morning meal of “people food,” along with child-focused and parent-directed activities that include a variety of movement, discovery, reasoning, crafts, songs and guided and free play opportunities. Children and parents are encouraged to explore the activities at their own pace and instructors are always there to help facilitate an engaging, fun experience for all. Your breakfast will finish with an amazing animal encounter!

Take home a plush animal as a keepsake of your Phoenix Zoo experience for only $6 if ordered when making reservations.

For children 2-5 years and a caregiver

Program Topics:

  • September – November 2014
  • January – May 2015

September: Timeless Tortoise

Dates and Times
September 5, 2014, 8 – 9 a.m.
September 6, 2014, 8 – 9 a.m.
September 7, 2014, 8 – 9 a.m.
September 12, 2014, 8 – 9 a.m.
September 13, 2014, 8 – 9 a.m.
September 14, 2014, 8 – 9 a.m.
September 19, 2014, 8 – 9 a.m.
September 20, 2014, 8 – 9 a.m.
September 21, 2014, 8 – 9 a.m.
September 26, 2014, 8 – 9 a.m.
September 27, 2014, 8 – 9 a.m.
September 28, 2014, 8 – 9 a.m.

Program Fee
Member Adult/Child Pair: $30
General Adult/Child Pair: $50
Register Here

Our program focuses on tortoises this month. You’ll learn about tortoise shells, tortoise eggs, how long tortoises live and much, much more! After breakfast and activities, you’ll enjoy a unique experience as we visit and feed the Aldabra tortoises in their exhibit!

October: Amazing Rays

Dates and Times
October 3, 2014, 8 – 9 a.m.
October 4, 2014, 8 – 9 a.m.
October 5, 2014, 8 – 9 a.m.
October 12, 2014, 8 – 9 a.m.

Program Fee
Member Adult/Child Pair: $30
General Adult/Child Pair: $50
Register Here

Our program focuses on stingrays this month. You’ll learn about stingray food and discover how smooth, slippery or slimy a stingray feels and much, much more! After breakfast and activities, you’ll enjoy a unique experience as we touch and feed the rays at Stingray Bay!

November: Wild Warthogs

Dates and Times
November 7, 2014, 8 – 9 a.m.
November 8, 2014, 8 – 9 a.m.
November 9, 2014, 8 – 9 a.m.
November 21, 2014, 8 – 9 a.m.
November 22, 2014, 8 – 9 a.m.
November 23, 2014, 8 – 9 a.m.

Program Fee
Member Adult/Child Pair: $30
General Adult/Child Pair: $50
Register Here

Our program focuses on warthogs this month. You’ll learn about warthog intelligence, warthog greetings, how much they like mud and much, much more! After breakfast and activities, you’ll enjoy a unique, behind-the-scenes experience assisting zookeepers as they prepare and deliver the warthogs’ breakfast!

January: Gentle Giants – Giraffe

Dates and Times
January 9, 2015, 8 – 9 a.m.
January 10, 2015, 8 – 9 a.m.
January 11, 2015, 8 – 9 a.m.
January 16, 2015, 8 – 9 a.m.
January 17, 2015, 8 – 9 a.m.
January 22, 2015, 8 – 9 a.m.
January 23, 2015, 8 – 9 a.m.
January 24, 2015, 8 – 9 a.m.
January 25, 2015, 8 – 9 a.m.
January 29, 2015, 8 – 9 a.m.
January 30, 2015, 8 – 9 a.m.
January 31, 2015, 8 – 9 a.m.

Program Fee
Member Adult/Child Pair: $30
General Adult/Child Pair: $50
Register Here

Our program focuses on giraffes this month. You’ll learn about what giraffes eat, how they use their tongues and much, much more! After breakfast and activities, you’ll enjoy a unique experience going behind-the-scenes to meet the tallest animals at the Zoo!

February: Wild Cats and Dogs

Dates and Times
February 6, 2015, 8 – 9 a.m.
February 7, 2015, 8 – 9 a.m.
February 8, 2015, 8 – 9 a.m.
February 13, 2015, 8 – 9 a.m.
February 14, 2015, 8 – 9 a.m.
February 15, 2015, 8 – 9 a.m.

Program Fee
Member Adult/Child Pair: $30
General Adult/Child Pair: $50
Register Here

Our program focuses on wild cats and dogs this month. You’ll learn how wild cats and dogs are different from our pets, why they are highly successful predators and much, much more! After breakfast and activities, you’ll enjoy a unique experience as we take a behind-the-scenes tour of the painted dogs’ night house. We then assist zookeepers by making and delivering behavioral enrichment to our African carnivores!

March: Monkey Madness

Dates and Times
March 6, 2015, 8 – 9 a.m.
March 7, 2015, 8 – 9 a.m.
March 8, 2015, 8 – 9 a.m.
March 13, 2015, 8 – 9 a.m.
March 14, 2015, 8 – 9 a.m.
March 15, 2015, 8 – 9 a.m.
March 20, 2015, 8 – 9 a.m.
March 21, 2015, 8 – 9 a.m.
March 22, 2015, 8 – 9 a.m.
March 27, 2015, 8 – 9 a.m.
March 28, 2015, 8 – 9 a.m.
March 29, 2015, 8 – 9 a.m.

Program Fee
Member Adult/Child Pair: $30
General Adult/Child Pair: $50
Register Here

Our program focuses on monkeys this month. You’ll learn how monkeys use their tails, how intelligent they are and much, much more! After breakfast and activities, a monkey keeper shows us how behavioral enrichment items are prepared for the squirrel monkeys of Monkey Village. You can even ask the keeper monkey questions and we will follow the keeper into Monkey Village before the zoo opens to watch as the monkeys receive their breakfast!

April: Bear Bonanza

Dates and Times
April 3, 2015, 8 – 9 a.m.
April 4, 2015, 8 – 9 a.m.
April 5, 2015, 8 – 9 a.m.
April 24, 2015, 8 – 9 a.m.
April 25, 2015, 8 – 9 a.m.
April 26, 2015, 8 – 9 a.m.

Program Fee
Member Adult/Child Pair: $30
General Adult/Child Pair: $50
Register Here

Our program focuses on bears this month. You’ll learn about the many types of bears that live around the world, what they eat, why some bears hibernate and much, much more! After breakfast and activities, participants help a zookeeper deliver behavioral enrichment to our bears!

May: Incredible Elephants

Dates and Times
May 1, 2015, 8 – 9 a.m.
May 2, 2015, 8 – 9 a.m.
May 3, 2015, 8 – 9 a.m.
May 7, 2015, 8 – 9 a.m.
May 8, 2015, 8 – 9 a.m.
May 9, 2015, 8 – 9 a.m.
May 10, 2015, 8 – 9 a.m.
May 14, 2015, 8 – 9 a.m.
May 15, 2015, 8 – 9 a.m.
May 16, 2015, 8 – 9 a.m.
May 17, 2015, 8 – 9 a.m.
May 21, 2015, 8 – 9 a.m.
May 22, 2015, 8 – 9 a.m.
May 23, 2015, 8 – 9 a.m.
May 24, 2015, 8 – 9 a.m.

Program Fee
Member Adult/Child Pair: $30
General Adult/Child Pair: $50
Register Here

Our program focuses on elephants this month. You’ll learn how elephants use their trunks, what they like to eat and much, much more! After breakfast and activities, you’ll learn about our elephants and assist an elephant keepers with their daily behavioral enrichment by hiding “elephant cookies” in the elephant yard and watching as the elephants search for the hidden treats!

Gifts for the Animals (Ages 2 – 5 years)

Whether it’s for a holiday or “just because” – giving gifts is fun! It allows us to show how much we care. The same is true for the animals at the Zoo. Join us for some generous fun — animal style — at our Gifts for the Animals program. Children join their caregiver and their instructor on a guided safari around Harmony Farm. We’ll take time to stop and observe animals and participate in hands-on learning activities. Activities are informal, fun learning opportunities, designed to foster excitement and learning between caregiver and child. This program offers the amazing opportunity to assist zookeepers by providing enrichment for many of our farm animals — in the form of special gifts!

For children 2 – 5 years and a caregiver

Dates and Times
December 13, 2014, 8 – 9 a.m.
December 14, 2014, 8 – 9 a.m.
April 18, 2015, 8 – 9 a.m.
April 19, 2015, 8 – 9 a.m.

Program Fee
Member Adult/Child Pair: $20
General Adult/Child Pair: $40
Register Here

Critter Keeper (Ages 6 – 10 years)

Experience what it’s like to be a zookeeper! During this non-stop, fun-filled afternoon, young Critter Keepers participate in all aspects of animal care including cleaning, distributing diets and preparing enrichment items for our animal collection. Small class sizes allow us to offer an exclusive and personalized adventure in which children experience the excitement, hard work and patience required to be a zookeeper and care for Zoo animals. All Critter Keepers are outfitted with a t-shirt and water bottle.

For children 6 – 10 years

Program Topics:

  • October – December 2014
  • January – May 2015

October: Rainforest Animals

Have you ever wondered how we keep rainforest animals happy and healthy in the desert? Critter Keeper Rainforest Animals takes place in the Zoo’s Forest of Uco and is designed to support children in discovering answers to questions, while having incredible encounters with Zoo animals and within Zoo exhibits. The non-stop program parallels the daily schedule of a zookeeper and begins when children meet their instructor on the bridge and walk to a Zoo classroom to get outfitted and briefed for their day of “work.” The small group of future animal caretakers moves right into all aspects of caring for rainforest animals, including cleaning an animal’s night house, measuring and distributing a portion of their diet and creating and delivering behavioral enrichment items. Don’t miss out on this incredible opportunity to learn about the fun, challenging and always entertaining job of a zookeeper!

November: Endangered Species

Can you help us feed the most endangered animal at the Zoo? Have you ever wanted to touch an endangered species that calls Arizona home? Critter Keeper Endangered Species is focused on threatened and endangered species and is designed to support children in discovering answers to questions, while having incredible encounters with Zoo animals and within Zoo exhibits. The non-stop program parallels the daily schedule of a zookeeper and begins when children meet their instructor on the bridge and walk to a Zoo classroom to get outfitted and briefed for their day of “work.” The small group of future animal caretakers moves right into all aspects of caring for some very special animals, including counting and finding all animals in a multi-species exhibit, delivering diet and creating and delivering behavioral enrichment items. Don’t miss out on this incredible opportunity to learn about the fun, challenging and always entertaining job of a zookeeper!

December: Arizona Trail

Do you know what the coati’s favorite treat is? Have you ever been face-to-face with the fastest animal in the Western Hemisphere? Critter Keeper Arizona Trail is designed to support children in discovering answers to questions, while having incredible encounters with Zoo animals and within Zoo exhibits. The non-stop program parallels the daily schedule of a zookeeper and begins when children meet their instructor on the bridge and walk to a Zoo classroom to get outfitted and briefed for their day of “work.” The small group of future animal caretakers moves right into all aspects of caring for Arizona animals, including cleaning an animal’s exhibit, measuring and distributing a portion of their diet, creating and delivering behavioral enrichment items and witnessing a training session by one of our keepers. Don’t miss out on this incredible opportunity to learn about the fun, challenging and always entertaining job of a zookeeper!

January: Show Animals

Have you ever wondered how zookeepers train the amazing animals that you’ve seen in our show? Have you ever wondered where all of the Zoo’s programs animals live? Critter Keeper Show Animals is focused on the Zoo’s show animals and is designed to support children in discovering answers to questions, while having incredible encounters with Zoo animals and within Zoo exhibits. The non-stop program parallels the daily schedule of a zookeeper and begins when children meet their instructor on the bridge and walk to a Zoo classroom to get outfitted and briefed for their day of “work.” The small group of future animal caretakers moves right into all aspects of caring for show animals, including preparing animal diets, observing animal training and husbandry and touring the behind-the-scenes home of our programs animals. Don’t miss out on this incredible opportunity to learn about the fun, challenging and always entertaining job of a zookeeper!

February: Children’s Trail

What is an ocelot’s favorite food? Does a warty pig really have warts? Critter Keeper Children’s Trail is designed to support children in discovering answers to questions, while having incredible encounters with Zoo animals and within Zoo exhibits. The non-stop program parallels the daily schedule of a zookeeper and begins when children meet their instructor on the bridge and walk to a Zoo classroom to get outfitted and briefed for their day of “work.” The small group of future animal caretakers moves right into all aspects of caring for some very fun zoo animals, including cleaning an animal enclosure with the animal still inside, learning to properly handle a Zoo animal, making and delivering behavioral enrichment and preparing diet for an elusive carnivore. Don’t miss out on this incredible opportunity to learn about the fun, challenging and always entertaining job of a zookeeper!

March: Reptiles

Does a snake feel different than a lizard? How can you tell a turtle and a tortoise apart? Critter Keeper Reptiles is designed to support children in discovering answers to questions, while having incredible encounters with Zoo animals and within Zoo exhibits. The non-stop program parallels the daily schedule of a zookeeper and begins when children meet their instructor on the bridge and walk to a Zoo classroom to get outfitted and briefed for their day of “work.” The small group of future animal caretakers moves right into all aspects of caring for these radical animals, including cleaning an animal enclosure with the animal still inside, learning to properly handle a Zoo animal and feeding and touching a giant reptile. Don’t miss out on this incredible opportunity to learn about the fun, challenging and always entertaining job of a zookeeper!

April: Raptors

What makes raptors different from any other bird? Can an owl really turn its head all the way around? Critter Keeper Raptors is designed to support children in discovering answers to questions, while having incredible encounters with Zoo animals and within Zoo exhibits. The non-stop program parallels the daily schedule of a zookeeper and begins when children meet their instructor on the bridge and walk to a Zoo classroom to get outfitted and briefed for their day of “work.” The small group of future animal caretakers moves right into all aspects of caring for these feathered animals, including: delivering behavioral enrichment to our vultures, using observation skills to identify and classify raptors and observing a raptor being trained by our animal resources staff. Don’t miss out on this incredible opportunity to learn about the fun, challenging and always entertaining job of a zookeeper!

May: Savanna Animals

What is one of the smartest animals on the savanna? Where do the giraffes go every night to sleep? Critter Keeper Savanna Animalsis focused on the animals that call our savanna exhibit home and designed to support children in discovering answers to questions, while having incredible encounters with Zoo animals and within Zoo exhibits. The non-stop program parallels the daily schedule of a zookeeper and begins when children meet their instructor on the bridge and walk to a Zoo classroom to get outfitted and briefed for their day of “work.” The small group of future animal caretakers moves right into all aspects of caring for savanna animals, including visiting the commissary and preparing animal diets, cleaning the giraffe’s night house, meeting a very smart savanna animal up-close and deliver behavioral enrichment. Don’t miss out on this incredible opportunity to learn about the fun, challenging and always entertaining job of a zookeeper!

Lunch with a Keeper (Ages 6 – 10 years)

Lunch with a Keeper is like a coveted backstage pass to meet the band! Enjoy a pizza lunch while you make friends with and learn from animal experts – our zookeepers. Ask questions that only a keeper can answer and listen to stories that only a keeper can tell. After lunch, be treated to a behind-the-scenes tour and awesome animal experience led by the person that knows the animals best. This unique experience is one of the best at the Zoo. You’ll truly understand the passion and dedication involved with being a zookeeper.

For children 6-10 years and a caregiver

Program Topics:

  • October – December 2014
  • January – May 2015

October: Reptile Keepers

How do zookeepers handle venomous rattlesnakes? How do they feed a giant komodo dragon? Find out these answers and many more during an afternoon of fun and excitement as we discover what it takes to work with reptiles big and small. Enjoy a pizza lunch alongside a reptile zookeeper who answers questions and tells stories about the animals and their job. Following lunch, we visit our Komodo dragons at the Land of the Dragons exhibit and learn how the exhibit was designed and how keepers work with such dangerous animals. Then the keeper takes us to the tortoise yard, where you have the opportunity to touch and feed the giant tortoises!

November: Animal Trainers

Have you ever wondered what it’s like to train animals? What kinds of things do animal trainers have to learn that other zookeepers do not? Find out these answers and many more during an afternoon of fun and excitement as we discover what it takes to put on a show with animals. Enjoy a pizza lunch alongside one of our animal trainers, who answers questions and tells stories about the animals and their job. Following lunch, take a behind-the-scenes tour of the programs animal enclosures and watch a training session with our show animals!

December: ZooLights Team

Would you like to know what goes into making the ZooLights season such a success at the Zoo? How do they make all of the animal shapes and who decides where they go? Find out these answers and many more during an afternoon of fun and excitement as we discover what it takes to put together the entire ZooLights experience. Enjoy a pizza dinner alongside one of our ZooLights technicians, who answers questions and tells stories about the ZooLights design and decoration process and their job. Following dinner, take a behind-the-scenes tour of the ZooLights garage and see how the armatures are made, what equipment is used and how it all comes together. Childrenthen get the fun and fascinating opportunity to ride up and down in a real ZooLights snorkel-lift!

January: Conservation Center Keepers

Want to come face-to-face with one of North America’s most endangered mammals? Would you like to learn how zookeepers care for snails as small as a grain of rice? Find out these answers and many more during an afternoon of fun and excitement as we discover what it takes to work with threatened native Arizona species. Enjoy a pizza lunch alongside a zookeeper from the Zoo’s Arthur L. and Elaine V. Johnson Foundation Conservation Center, who answers questions and tells stories about the animals and their job. Following lunch, take a behind-the-scenes tour of the Johnson Center and see some of the current conservation projects in action at the Zoo!

February: Giraffe Keepers

Why do giraffes have such long necks? How do zookeepers reach that high to feed them? Find out these answers and many more during an afternoon of fun and excitement as we discover what makes giraffes such a favorite animal at the Zoo. Enjoy a pizza lunch alongside one of our giraffe zookeepers, who answers questions and tells stories about the animals and their job. Following lunch, take a behind-the-scenes tour of the giraffe barn (the giraffes’ very large night house). Once we have appreciated their true size by touring the barn, we make our way to the giraffe deck where you have the opportunity for private, up-close interaction with one of our giraffes!

March: Elephant Keepers

What is it like to work with a 9,000 pound animal? Are elephants really as intelligent as some claim? Find out these answers and many more during an afternoon of fun and excitement as we discover what it takes to work with elephants. Enjoy a pizza lunch alongside one of our elephant zookeepers who answers questions and tells stories about the animals and their job. Following lunch, we prepare cardboard boxes stuffed with treats and melon heads as behavioral enrichment for our elephants. After a short walk to a behind-the-scenes elephant area, watch as the keepers deliver your handmade enrichment items to the elephants!

April: African Carnivore Keepers

What makes the African painted dog the most successful hunters on the African savanna? What special care do carnivores require every day? Find out these answers and many more during an afternoon of fun and excitement as we discover what it takes to work with Africa’s most successful hunters. Enjoy a pizza lunch alongside one of our carnivore zookeepers who answers questions and tells stories about the animals and their job. Following lunch, take a behind-the-scenes tour of an African carnivore’s night house. Delivering enrichment items to the animals is thrilling as we watch them demonstrate some of their amazing adaptations!

May: Orangutan Keepers

What is an orangutan’s favorite food? Do they like to play just like we do? What are some of the challenges of working with such an intelligent, unique and strong animal? Come find out these answers and many more during an afternoon of fun and excitement as we discover what it takes to work with orangutans. Enjoy a pizza lunch alongside one of our orangutan zookeepers who answers questions and tells stories about the animals and their job. Following lunch, participants have an up-close look at the Zoo’s orangutans!

Wild Science Academy (Ages 5 – 8 years)

Wild Science Academy lets you explore the world of science with the Zoo as your classroom! These affordable and educational two-hour classes teach science through animal interactions, behind-the-scenes experiences, laboratory investigations, group projects, Zoo hikes and other inquiry-based learning activities. Designed for home school students, but open to all, Wild Science Academy is perfect for any young student with a desire to learn more about the science of zoos. Each class is also developed using Arizona Science Standards.

Program Topics:

  • September – December 2014
  • January – May 2015

September: Invertebrates

Invertebrates represent over 95 percent of all animals on earth, as well as some of the most interesting and important species. In this course, students will get up-close to invertebrates at the Zoo, investigate ecosystem services like pollination and decomposition and learn how humans can help endangered populations of these intriguing and often misunderstood animals.

October: Amphibians

Amphibians are characterized by their double life — existing in both aquatic and terrestrial habitats. In this course, students will explore, through inquiry experiments, animal encounters and metamorphosis games, the amazing adaptations necessary for amphibious survival.

November: Fish 

OPTION 1: Packed to the gills with fintastic fun, this course takes students underwater on a mission for fish exploration! Designed for future ichthyologists, students in this course will get their feet wet while discovering the functions of fins, gills and lateral lines through up-close animal observation, scientific experiments, fun games and activities.

OPTION 2: Living the aquatic life can be tough and misunderstood, especially here in the desert! In this course, students get their feet wet while exploring local fish species, the daily challenges of life underwater and the fascinating ways fish are adapted to aquatic life. Note: students will not be swimming during this course.

December: Reptiles

This course takes students into the realm of the reptile, exploring the distinct characteristics that make them so radical. Students perform inquiry and observation experiments to collect information about reptiles and learn what it would be like to live a scaly life!

January: Birds

Birds lead quite interesting lives and possess distinct traits that make them capable of one amazing feat that has long fascinated humans — the power of flight! This course features feather experiments, flight demonstrations and up-close avian encounters as we learn what makes flight possible.

February: Mammals

Mammals represent the world’s largest animal species, as well as the hairiest! Through guided inquiry and experiments, students in this course investigate the importance and capabilities of hair, from waterproofing to warmth, and even as a sensory organ also have the opportunity to get up-close and personal with our closest animal relatives.

March: Animal Relationships

During this course, students explore the myriad animals and how they interact with one another in an ecosystem via competition, predation and symbiotic relationships. Students discover, through interactive demonstrations, data collection and behind-the-scenes experiences, that all ecological relationships, even parasitic ones, are integral to the stability of an ecosystem.

April: Animal-Habitat Relationships

All animals must have a habitat and they often share this habitat with both living and non-living features and factors. Using ecology field techniques and methodologies, students investigate the intimate and integral relationships animals have with the non-animal life forms and non-living components of their environment, as well as the lasting impact animals have on their surroundings.

May: Biomes

All living and non-living things coexist in harmonious balance on the grand biome scale, from desert and savanna to deep ocean trench. Students in this course explore the world’s biomes through the lens of ecological and biological concepts and investigate ecosystem services and calculate the value of biomes. Additionally, students collaborate to create complex, miniature biomes to showcase all they’ve learned about the science of animals and express their appreciation for all life.

Wild Science Academy (Ages 9 – 13 years)

Wild Science Academy lets you explore the world of science with the Zoo as your classroom! These affordable and educational two-hour classes teach science through animal interactions, behind-the-scenes experiences, laboratory investigations, group projects, Zoo hikes and other inquiry-based learning activities. Designed for home school students, but open to all, Wild Science Academy is perfect for any young student with a desire to learn more about the science of zoos. Each class is also developed using Arizona Science Standards.

Program Topics:

  • September – December 2014
  • January – May 2015

September: Flight

Many animals have adapted for life in the air, but none so elegantly as birds. This course explores the avian adaptations for flight through live animal interactions, artifact observations and investigations. Students experiment with the physical forces and avian mechanics that make flight possible through guided inquiry projects and meet some feathered friends along the way.

October: Structure

Why does a cheetah have such long legs? Why are some predatory fish warm-blooded? This course explores the incredible internal mechanisms that power the speediest species on earth. Students conduct comparative investigations of animal skeletal systems and get up-close to observe animals with intriguing anatomical adaptations.

November: Strength

Muscles are measurably more than just mechanisms for movement. For many animal species, the body’s muscles work overtime to ensure survival, constantly exerting force to cause motion. In this course, students investigate the three types of muscles through hands-on exploration and activities, scientific calculations and animal encounters to foster an appreciation for the part muscles play in animal survival.

December: Defense mechanisms

Animals are constantly exposed to chemical, biological and physical challenges they must overcome in order to survive. In this course, students encounter the unique defenses animals have developed, explore the development and biological impact of venom, toxins and poisons, investigate camouflage and mechanics involved in color changing species and get up-close to Zoo animals with some amazing abilities to stay alive.

January: Communication

Communication is a key to success, and for many animals, the key to survival! This course introduces the various forms of communication, from chemical cues to infrasonic sound waves,that are employed by animal ambassadors in order to stay alive. Students investigate the nervous system and how various forms of communication are generated, received and interpreted.

February: Animals Big and Small

Animals come in myriad shapes and sizes, but all must perform basic functions to stay alive. This course explores biological phenomena of gigantism and dwarfism by taking an in-depth look at some of the Zoo’s resident giants. Students investigate the mechanics required to sustain life on these opposing scales through inquiry-based study and cost-benefit analysis to determine what factors might allow animals to get so big or so small.

March: Nutrition

A balanced diet is essential to a healthy life for humans and this rule applies to animals as well. During this course students discuss and compare balanced diets for predators and prey, carnivores and herbivores. Students investigate the nutritional content of various food items and roles of different nutrients in animal diets, then get up-close with some hungry Zoo residents.

April: Endurance

In order to move muscles and perform the work necessary to live, animals require energy — some more than others. During this course, students investigate extreme examples of animal energy consumption and conservation and perform investigative research in behavioral and structural adaptations, while getting up-close to animal ambassadors.

May: Ecosystem Energy

The productivity of an ecosystem is essential to all the species that thrive there, as well as conservationists. During this course, students track energy through an ecosystem from the sun, up through the top predators and back into the ground. Students calculate a habitat’s productivity and investigate the costs and benefits of conservation action in different regions around the world. Using animal ambassadors, students develop a new understanding of the role energy plays in daily life for all living things, as well as the important role the sun plays in all biological function.