Special Needs Field Trip Program

The Phoenix Zoo offers the Animal Families program, developed specifically for students with special needs. Live animals, photographs, skull models, pelts, animal figures and more are used to engage students and demonstrate concepts. Our program utilizes a sensory motor approach where students move between stations and are encouraged to touch, smell and feel all appropriate items. The program can be geared towards students of any age and functioning level. The animal families discussed include insects, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals.

Programs are offered Mondays in October – April by reservation only. Classes are presented by Zoo volunteers and are free with paid admission to the Zoo. Call 602.914.4333 for more information.

Special Needs Camp Zoo Program
Sponsored by the Arizona Diamondbacks

Kids can spend summer and winter breaks at the Zoo with Camp Zoo! Camp Zoo offers children in kindergarten through eighth grade an opportunity to explore nature and the Zoo in a fun, hands-on and exciting way. All of our lessons and activities are age-appropriate and designed for multiple learning styles. Young children will be introduced to nature with smaller animals, basic caregiving, art projects and very simple action projects. Each class progresses with the children’s level of understanding all the way up to seventh and eighth grades, during which participants will explore animal training, visitor education and Zoo careers.

Winter Camp Zoo

Sense of Wonder Camp
December 31, 2014, 8 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

Camp Zoo at the Phoenix Zoo offers Sense of Wonder — a special day of camp for children with sensory impairments. Sponsored by the Arizona Diamondbacks

Combining the experiences from our weeklong camp curriculum, this one day camp experience is sure to be a memorable one! Children have fascinating adventures with the natural world through up-close animal encounters, hands-on activities, games, in-depth investigations and organized free-time. Sense of Wonder offers a safe yet challenging educational experience designed to build a camper’s independence, confidence and skills. Campers are encouraged to develop strong relationships with their peers and to appreciate individual connections with the natural world.

Sense of Wonder has been developed with the assistance of a generous grant from the Arizona Diamondbacks Foundation. The foundation also offers scholarships to allow a limited number of children with sensory impairments to attend for free.

Register for Sense of Wonder

Wild Hearts Camp
January 2, 8 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

Camp Zoo at the Phoenix Zoo offers Wild Hearts — a special day of camp for children with orthopedic impairments. Sponsored by the Arizona Diamondbacks

Highlighting the best activities and animal experiences from our week long camp curriculum, this one day camp experience is sure to be a memorable one! Children have fascinating adventures with the natural world through up-close animal encounters, hands-on activities, games, in-depth investigations and organized free-time. Wild Hearts offers a safe yet challenging educational experience designed to build camper’s independence, confidence and skills. Campers are encouraged to develop strong relationships with their peers and to appreciate individual connections with the natural world.

Wild Hearts has been developed with the assistance of a generous grant from the Arizona Diamondbacks Foundation. The foundation also offers scholarships to allow a limited number of children with orthopedic impairments to attend for free.

Register for Wild Hearts

General Camp Information

Although lessons are developed ahead of time, we leave room for individual self-expression and the program is flexible to meet the needs of individuals within the group. Instructors possess respect for and understanding of children and a deep passion for the natural world. They are well trained in interpretive techniques, group management and activity facilitation.*

Many children have special needs and it is not possible for one program to meet the specific needs of all children. Wild Hearts is designed specifically for children with physical disabilities. Terrain at the Zoo may be difficult for some, but we select activities and behind-the-scenes experiences to maximize accessibility for campers who manage physical impairment limitations and/or use of mobility aides (wheelchairs, walkers, etc.). Those who need one-on-one assistance whenever they are moving are expected to provide their own aide, caregiver or respite provider (who attend camp at no additional charge). Campers also need to be able to communicate consistently and reliably in a verbal or non-verbal way, so camp instructors and peers can understand their needs and so campers can fully participate in, and benefit from, the whole camp experience. If campers have communication impairments, they should be accompanied by someone who is able to facilitate communication on their behalf.

While we do not have the staff to accommodate campers with behavioral, emotional or cognitive impairments, or who are extremely medically fragile, campers with these needs are welcome to attend when accompanied by their aide, caregiver or respite provider (who attend camp at no additional charge). Please contact the Camp Zoo supervisor to discuss your child’s needs and ensure that Camp Zoo is a good match as part of your child’s summer schedule.

Camp Zoo at the Phoenix Zoo is for students who are entering kindergarten through eighth-grade in the fall of 2014. The camp day runs from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

All camp participants receive a shirt, hat, water bottle and lanyard. Campers must wear their Camp Zoo shirt during camp. One shirt will be included with your registration and additional shirts are available for purchase. Camp fee also includes a small mid-morning snack.

*Please note that the Zoo does not employ specific individuals certified or extensively trained in Special Education; however, our camp instructors do receive pre-camp training that includes basic skills for working with children who have special needs.