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Kids & Families

Camp Zoofari

Camp Zoofari is an immersive experience for children ages 6-12. Campers explore the Zoo, meet our animals and make new friends while learning about wildlife and how to protect them in the wild.

Camp Dates & Hours

Drop Off: 8:45 – 9:15 am
Pick Up: 3:45 – 4:15 pm
June 5-9 July 10-14
June 12-16 July 17-21
June 19-23 July 24-28
June 26-30 July 31- August 4

August 7-11 – A special session of All Access camp for campers ages 10-12. See below for more details.

Important Information

Cost: Starting at $375/week. Please see individual topics for prices.

Activities and interactions are tailored to your camper’s age. Every topic includes opportunities to interact directly with a variety of Zoo staff, meet animals up close and personal, explore staff-only areas, feed giraffes, ride the carousel, and more!

For camper and staff safety, all drop-off and pick-up will occur curb side. For a full list of safety considerations, please see our “Changes to Camp” section below.

Registration Information

Registration is tiered and will open based on membership level:

  • February 7 – All membership and donor clubs $200+
  • February 21 – All remaining membership levels
  • March 7 – General Registration

To ensure the topic or dates that you want, please make sure your membership is current before the dates listed above. To confirm membership levels and pricing,

click here

6-7 Year-Olds

A camp all about animal poop! Who dung it? What’s that smell? You may be surprised how much a #2 can tell us about an animal’s health, lifestyle, and favorite snacks. Campers will learn all this and more while exploring the field of scatology.

Price: $375

Weeks Offered: June 5-9, June 12-16, June 19-23, June 26-30, July 10-14, July 17-21, July 24-28, July 31-August 4

What features or skills does it take to survive in the wild? Can campers leap like a tree frog? Run like a cheetah? Are they strong like a gorilla? Campers will learn about the features that allow animals to thrive and put that learning into action by designing their very own Creature Creation that can live anywhere!

Price: $375

Weeks Offered: June 5-9, June 12-16, June 19-23, June 26-30, July 10-14, July 17-21, July 24-28, July 31-August 4

Does your camper dream of working at a Zoo?   In “When I Grow Up…”, campers will role play activities and meet with Zoo team members in a variety of positions from zookeepers to horticulturists, nutritionists, safety rangers and more.

Price: $375

Weeks Offered: June 5-9, June 12-16, June 19-23, June 26-30, July 10-14, July 17-21, July 24-28, July 31-August 4

8-9 Year-Olds

Do you have what it takes to survive in the wild? Our animal counterparts can make it look easy, whether trekking through the jungle, scaling mountains, or swimming through the seas. Join us as we delve into the realm of animal adaptations and pick up some survival skills along the way!

Price: $375

Weeks Offered: June 5-9, June 12-16, June 19-23, June 26-30, July 10-14, July 17-21, July 24-28, July 31-August 4

Do you know what it takes to build a zoo? Do you know what it takes to build a zoo? From deciding what animals to house, to creating life-like habitats and ensuring the animals are well cared for, maintaining a Zoo is hard work! Campers will learn about all the elements of conservation-driven Zoos and their missions while building their own exhibits!

Price: $375

Weeks Offered: June 5-9, June 12-16, June 19-23, June 26-30, July 10-14, July 17-21, July 24-28, July 31-August 4

 

Who lives at the Houston Zoo? Where did our animals come from? Which animals love to train, and which animals prefer to stalk guests? Take a deep dive into all things Houston Zoo and walk away with all the best Zoo secrets!

Price: $375

Weeks Offered: June 5-9, June 12-16, June 19-23, June 26-30, July 10-14, July 17-21, July 24-28, July 31-August 4

 

10-12 Year-Olds

Ever wonder how you teach an elephant to sit? Or how to train a lion to hold still for an injection? How do you teach a sea lion to return a pair of lost sunglasses? Hone your training skills and become a junior zookeeper as we explore the world of animal husbandry!

Price: $500

Weeks Offered: June 5-9, June 12-16, June 19-23, June 26-30, July 10-14, July 17-21, July 24-28, July 31-August 4

 

Who works at the zoo? Is it just zookeepers? Explore the various people and positions required to run a zoo and connect with some of the professionals around the world that the zoo works with to promote animal conservation in the wild.   

Cost: $500

Weeks Offered: June 5-9, June 12-16, June 19-23, June 26-30, July 10-14, July 17-21, July 24-28, July 31-August 4

 

 

Has your camper dreamed of encountering the Houston Zoo animals and staff up-close and personal? In this immersive camp, your camper will be led by our full-time education staff and visit a behind-the-scenes animal section every day. Campers will get the inside scoop on animal stories, what it’s like to work at a Zoo, and even travel around the Zoo using staff-only access areas! Animal experiences will vary based on animal and staff availability but could include visiting Hoofed Mammals, Reptiles, Ambassador Animals, Sea Lions, Birds, and Pantanal. Backlot areas may include animal nutrition, horticulture, theming workshops, the recycling center, and more. please note: Not every encounter involves touching or feeding. 

 Cost: $1000

Offered the week of August 7-11

We believe there should be no boundaries to the Camp Zoofari experience. Campers of all abilities are welcome to join. Trained staff and teen mentors supervise campers at all times.

The Camp Zoofari experience includes:

  1. Exploring Zoo grounds, which has varying smells, light, noise, and temperature levels
  2. Maneuvering on uneven terrain
  3. Spending up to 2 hours at a time outdoors, covering anywhere from 1-3 miles per day
  4. Participating in both group and individual activities
  5. Moving to and from the floor or ground
  6. Utilizing public restrooms
  7. Maintaining a positive attitude and following staff instructions

Our goal is to set up all campers and staff for success. To help us provide the best possible experience, please inform us of all special considerations prior to participation. This may include information on allergies, accessibility concerns, behavioral, psychological or emotional conditions as well as any other special needs. If your child needs to attend with a full-time care provider, special arrangements can be made. Please contact us prior to registration at education@houstonzoo.org or 713-533-6739 to make an accommodation request. We are happy to work with households to make Camp Zoofari accessible to campers with varying needs. We are, however, unable to provide one-on-one support or supplementary services.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are there extended camp hours?

We do not offer drop off or pick up outside of camp hours, 8:45 am-4:15 pm. If you are looking to drop off a camper late or pick up early, please contact us at education@houstonzoo.org

How will drop-off and pick-up work?

A lane will be designated for drop-off and pick-up. Each car will pull up to be met by camp staff, who will screen each vehicle and escort campers into our Education Center. For the safety of our staff and campers, we are asking all caregivers to remain in their vehicle during this process. In advance of each camp week, a welcome video will be sent with additional camp information and a map showing where to go upon arrival.

Additionally, families are invited to park in Lot G and walk up to our camp gate. Caregivers will not be admitted beyond the camp gate to maintain the integrity of the camp space.

Can I pick up my child early?

We plan our days to make full use of our time. As such, pickup and drop-off outside of normal hours may lead to missed activities for your camper.

We will do our best to accommodate pick-up and drop-off outside of normal hours, though we cannot accommodate early pick-up between 11:15-12:45 or between 3:00 -3:45.

Please contact education@houstonzoo.org to arrange alternate pick-up or drop-off times.

Are there scholarships available for Camp Zoofari?

Camp Zoofari does award need-based scholarships, as well as school partner scholarships. All applicants will be asked to complete the necessary applications, which will be posted online with member registration. Additional information regarding scholarship timelines will be posted as well.

 

What will a regular day look like for my camper?

A regular camp day varies by theme, but will include tours throughout the Zoo. Information and stories will be shared that relate to each camp’s theme. Games and activities will further support each theme. Throughout the week, campers will have visits from our Animal Ambassadors, as well as opportunities to feed the giraffes and ride the carousel. Every topic will also include at least one visit to a staff-only area of the Zoo. The days for these activities vary based on camper age.

Typical Daily Schedule

  8:45 – 9:15   Check-In at the Brown Education Center (BEC)
  9:15-9:30   Icebreaker games, begin Zoo tour.
  9:30-11:00   Morning Zoo tour, lesson, and snack on zoo grounds
  11:00-11:30   Return to BEC and prep for Lunch
  11:30-12:15   Lunch at Lone Star Pavilion
  12:15-12:30   Return to BEC and put lunch away
  12:30-1:00

1:00-3:00

  Camp-wide group activities

Theme specific games or crafts (both indoors and outdoors), ambassador animal visit

  3:00-3:45   Snack in BEC, final activities, and prepare to check out
  3:45 – 4:15   Check Out in Brown Education Center

Who will be supervising my camper?

Our camp staff, or Camp Guides, come from a variety of backgrounds, but all are experienced in working with kids in science and nature exploration. We select our camp staff based on their educational experience and scientific background. Many of our camp educators are full-time teachers during the year. They are supported each season with our teenage program participants, the Zoo Crew.

Both Guides and Zoo Crew undergo training ahead of each camp season on topics including animal information, positive behavior management techniques, critical and scientific thinking, and Zoo procedures.

Camp Zoofari operates under a Single Skill Exemption from the Texas Department of Health and Human Services. Camp Zoofari is not a child-care facility, day care center, or licensed before- or after-school program. Risks associated with participating in Camp Zoofari may include, but are not limited to, trips and falls, insect bites, heat exposure, splinters, and minor first aid injuries resulting from supervised outdoor play.

Can I register my camper for a topic/group outside of their age group?

Age requirements are not negotiable and are strictly enforced. Campers must fall within the specified age category on the first day of the camp session they are attending.  Each topic is developed with age-appropriate techniques and measures. We divide the campers by their birthdate into smaller groups for Zoo tours and activities.

Is there a cancellation policy?

Due to the high demand for camp spaces, all sales are considered final. Patrons who provide a written notice of cancellation to education@houstonzoo.org on or before May 1 will receive a 50% refund of their camp registration fees. No refunds will be issued after this date, including participants who miss all or partial programs due to illness. T-shirt purchases are not refundable. The Houston Zoo reserves the right to cancel any program due to minimum enrollment, inclement weather or unforeseen circumstances, in which case a full refund will be issued. Cancellations are official upon receipt of confirmation from the Houston Zoo.

What should my camper bring each day?

Camp Zoofari Packing List:

Camp shirt (provided per week of registration)
Close-toes shoes
Reusable water bottle
Lunch

Additional items campers are welcome to bring:

Weather-appropriate gear like hats, coats, rain coats, sunglasses, etc.
Sunscreen or bug spray. Please apply before dropping off your camper.  We are not able to apply.
Cameras

Camp Zoofari asks that campers do not bring the following items:

Anything you or your camper would be upset to lose
Stuffed Animals
Personal Electronics
Smart Watches
Food for other Campers

A secure space is made available for each camp group to store their belongings throughout the day

What should my camper bring for lunch?

Camp Zoofari is a high energy experience! You can help us make it a successful experience by providing your camper a solid breakfast before camp and sending a solid lunch that you know they will eat. Camp Zoofari is not an ideal place to expose campers to new foods or test out new lunch options. Additionally, we do not have the facilities to microwave or reheat camper lunches.

Does my camper need to wear their camp shirt each day?

Yes, a camp t-shirt must be worn each day of Camp Zoofari. One shirt is included in the registration fee per week.  You may purchase additional shirts at the time of registration for $20 apiece. Sizes are Youth XS (2-4), S (6-8), M (10-12), L (14-16), and Adult S, M, and L. If you are unsure of what size to order, please order a size larger to allow room for your camper to grow.

What do you do in the event of severe weather?

If Houston Zoo is open, Camp Zoofari is operating. To determine if camp is in session, please visit the Houston Zoo main page. Any closings will be announced on the homepage of our website and through Bloomz, our communication platform. Closings will also be communicated via the Houston Zoo Facebook page. Please send campers in appropriate weather gear each day.

In the event of severe weather while campers are on grounds, they will be escorted into our indoor camp spaces. Activity times will shift to allow campers to continue to enjoy their day while waiting for the worst of the weather to pass.

What have previous campers shared about the Camp Zoofari experience?

“He said that it was his favorite camp. He said, “Zoo camp makes everything better!” Wow! Quite a statement from him”

“This was her first Camp Zoofari – and she loved every minute, couldn’t wait to go back each day. She feels like she is a “zoo expert” now, which is fantastic!”

“My daughter LOVES Zoo Camp!! She chatters non stop about everything she learns each day. She is never this talkative and excited about other things. She is a walking, talking animal referencer book. We are recycling now and doing outside projects based on her interest from what she has learned.”

How can I get in contact with you?

To contact any members of our Camp Zoofari team, please email education@houstonzoo.org or call us at 713-533-6739.