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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 3-7 July 8-12
June 10-14 July 15-19
June 17-21 July 22-26
June 24-28 July 29- August 2

August 5-9 – 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!

 

Registration Information

Registration is tiered and will open based on membership level:

  • February 6 – Donor clubs ($250+) and Family and Friends Premium members
  • February 20 – All remaining donor and membership levels
  • March 5 – General Registration

 

6-7 Year-Olds

What is the scoop on poop? We know big animals like elephants poop a lot, but what about animals like bugs? What is in animal poop? How can poop be used for compost and how does it naturally fertilize soil? While we explore the Zoo, campers will learn fun facts about animal diets, soil cycles, and how the Zoo deals with so much poop!

Price: $375

Weeks Offered: June 3-7, June 10-14, June 17-21, June 24-28, July 8-12, July 15-19, July 22-26, July 29-August 2
This camp offers one guaranteed behind-the-scenes experience 

Strikeouts indicate a sold-out session.

 

In a game of animals versus athletes, who would win? This week, we will discover which animals are top competitors in speed, climbing, stealth, jumping, and more. We will learn how animals use their senses to be amazing survivors in their ecosystems. Campers will learn about the animal adaptations that make each animal a top contender!

Price: $375

Weeks Offered: June 3-7, June 10-14, June 17-21, June 24-28, July 8-12, July 15-19, July 22-26, July 29-August 2
This camp offers one guaranteed behind-the-scenes experience 

Strikeouts indicate a sold-out session.

Some animals can survive harsh cold, some can survive without water, and some have evolved to thrive within concrete cities. This week, campers will explore how and why animals fill the most extreme niches. Campers will learn about extreme environments and what it takes for animals to survive and thrive.

Price: $375

Weeks Offered: June 3-7, June 10-14, June 17-21, June 24-28, July 8-12, July 15-19, July 22-26, July 29-August 2
This camp offers one guaranteed behind-the-scenes experience 

Strikeouts indicate a sold-out session.

 

8-9 Year-Olds

This year, we want to celebrate the Olympics by exploring which animals would make excellent Olympians! Cheetahs are great sprinters, sloths would medal in gymnastics, and Sally Lightfoot crabs win out in sport climbing. Each species has a sport they would excel at, just like each animal has an environment they thrive in! Campers will learn about animal adaptations that make every animal an athlete.

Price: $375

Weeks Offered: June 3-7, June 10-14, June 17-21, June 24-28, July 8-12, July 15-19, July 22-26, July 29-August 2
This camp offers one guaranteed behind-the-scenes experience 

Strikeouts indicate a sold-out session.

 

So much happens behind-the-scenes at the Zoo! Where do the animals come from and how do we take care of them? The Zoo runs like a city, with just as many roles. This week, we will peel back the curtain as we share our favorite Zoo stories. Campers will learn about how the Zoo functions, how teamwork ensures the animals receive the best care, and little-known Zoo facts too!

Price: $375

Weeks Offered: June 3-7, June 10-14, June 17-21, June 24-28, July 8-12, July 15-19, July 22-26, July 29-August 2
This camp offers one guaranteed behind-the-scenes experience 

Strikeouts indicate a sold-out session.

 

Animals at the Zoo use science every day, even if they don’t know it! How are duck’s feathers waterproof, how does venom work, and why are eggs so strong? Science has the answers to some of nature’s coolest adaptations. Using a series of hands-on experiments, as well as our own Zoo observations, we will explore how nature uses science.

Price: $375

Weeks Offered: June 3-7, June 10-14, June 17-21, June 24-28, July 8-12, July 15-19, July 22-26, July 29-August 2
This camp offers one guaranteed behind-the-scenes experience 

Strikeouts indicate a sold-out session.

 

10-12 Year-Olds

Can you identify each Zoo animal by name? What are their stories, and why are they at the Zoo? Join us as we become the ultimate Zoo naturalists, experts on all things Houston Zoo. From sharing the Zoo’s conservation goals to the stories that make each animal a unique ambassador for its species, we will cover everything you need to become the ultimate Houston Zoo expert!

Price: $500

Weeks Offered: June 3-7, June 10-14, June 17-21, June 24-28, July 8-12, July 15-19, July 22-26, July 29-August 2
This camp offers two guaranteed behind-the-scenes experiences 

Strikeouts indicate a sold-out session.

 

About 400 total staff work to keep the Zoo running every day! Who works at the Zoo? Is it just zookeepers and veterinarians? Explore the different departments and careers that help the Zoo promote animal conservation in the wild, from zookeepers, to design and engineers, to marketing and graphic design.

Cost: $500

Weeks Offered: June 3-7, June 10-14, June 17-21, June 24-28, July 8-12, July 15-19, July 22-26, July 29-August 2
This camp offers two guaranteed behind-the-scenes experiences 

Strikeouts indicate a sold-out session.

 

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 5-9
This camp offers ten guaranteed behind-the-scenes experiences

Accommodations & Accessibility

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.

Scholarship Information

Camp Zoofari awards need-based scholarships, as well as scholarships for our Wildlife Saving School Partners. All scholarships for the 2024 camp season have been awarded.

Applications will reopen in February for the 2025 camp season.

 

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 see the question below.

Can I drop off late or pickup early?

We plan our days to make full use of our time. As such, late drop-offs or early pick-ups may lead to missed activities for your camper.

We can accommodate late drop-offs or early pickups from 10 AM – 3 PM. Please contact our camp team at 713-533-6739 to arrange late drop-offs and early pick-ups. We cannot accommodate these between 3:00 – 3:45 PM as it is too close to the end of the normal camp day.

How will drop-off and pick-up work?

A lane on Hermann Park Dr. will be designated for drop-off and pick-up. At drop-off, each car will follow the line past the camp gate to be met by camp staff, who will screen each vehicle and escort campers into our Education Center. At pick-up, we will call your camper out once you have pulled though the line past the camp gate and they will not load into the car until we have screened your vehicle and you’ve signed them out. For the safety of our staff and campers, we are asking all caregivers to remain in their vehicle during this process.

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. 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.

Please do not illegally pull over or park in the accessible parking or fire lane by the camp gate for pick-up or drop off. HPD assists us with pick-up and drop-off and has expressed this is a both a large safety/accessibility hazard and clogs traffic flow.

 

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 activities
 9:30-11:15  Morning Zoo tour, themed lesson and activity, and snack on Zoo grounds, giraffe feeding one day of the camp week
 11:15-11:30  Return to BEC and prep for Lunch
 11:30-12:00  Lunch inside BEC
 12:00-12:30  After-lunch programming in BEC auditorium including ambassador animals, Camp Zoofari TV, and fun conservation skits
 12:30-3:00 Afternoon Zoo tour, themed lesson, carousel one day of the camp week
 3:00-3:45  Return for snack in BEC and prepare to check out, recap and debrief the day
3:45-4:15 Check out from BEC

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)
  • Closed-toes shoes
  • Reusable water bottle
  • Lunch (fridges & microwaves are not available)

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 these once they’ve been checked in.
  • 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 or snacks for other Campers

A secure space is made available for each camp group to store their belongings throughout the day, but items can be lost if left on Zoo grounds. We recommend labeling belongings like water bottles and cameras with a camper name and/or camp group in the event they are misplaced, especially on Zoo grounds, as these items will be sent to the general Zoo-wide lost-and-found if turned in. Ultimately, we recommend leaving valuables and unnecessary belongings at home.

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.

Although a member of our camp leadership team is typically available at the gate during drop-off and pick-up for quick questions, it is preferable to call or email us for longer conversations or concerns so we can give you our undivided attention– if you call or email after camp, we will be able to get back to you that afternoon or the next morning well before drop-off.