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Kids & Families

Camp Zoofari

Camp Zoofari is an immersive experience for children ages 4-16. Campers explore the Houston Zoo, meet Zoo animals and make new friends while learning about animals and how to save them in the wild.

Registration Dates

Registration is based on membership level. All registrations will open at 8:00 a.m. on the listed date.

January 28 – Asante
February 4 – Conservator, Flock Patron
February 11 – Flock Plus, Family & Friends Premium
February 18 – All other membership levels
February 25 – Non-members

To renew or upgrade a membership, click here!

Hours & Important Information

Summer Camp Zoofari 2019 will run Monday-Friday, June 3 – August 16

Drop Off: 8:45 – 9:15 am
Pick Up: 3:45 – 4:15 pm
Half Day: 8:45 – 11:45 am
Early Drop-Off*: 7:30-7:45 AM
Late Pick up*: 5:00-5:15 pm

*Early/Late pick up sold separately on select weeks. For full details, please see our Camp Policies.

Before and After Camp Programming

Before Camp Programming is offered each week of camp. After Camp Programming will only be offered the following weeks:

June 3-7
June 17-21
July 8-12
July 22-26

Before Camp Programming: $50
After Camp Programming: $60

Information regarding both programs can be found in our Camp Policies.

For summer 2019, camp will be sold as a week long experience built around different themes. Activities and interactions are tailored to your camper’s age. Each topic will offer different experiences and opportunities. Topics are listed below for each age group. Topics outlined in blue were voted #1 topics by 2018 camp parents.

4-5 Years Half Day

Tall Tales and Silly Songs

Have you ever wondered how a cheetah got its spots? How an elephant grew such a long trunk? Join us on a trip as we explore the animal kingdom through song and story. Of course, we’ll also visit the real-life characters and learn awesome facts about these storybook superstars.

Offered at $225 the weeks of:
June 3
June 17
July 8
July 22

Animals A-Z

With the alphabet as a map, your camper will navigate the diversity of the animal kingdom. The letters will guide them from Alligators to Zebras, and everything in between.

Offered at $225 the weeks of:
June 10
June 24
July 15
July 29

4-5 Years Full Day

Dino Discovery

Over 65 million years in the making, dinosaurs are back! Journey through time to explore the prehistoric world and discover how these magnificent (and sometimes fearsome) creatures measure up against the amazing animals of the Houston Zoo.

Offered at $330 the weeks of:
June 3
June 10
July 8
July 15
August 5

Offered at $200 the week of:
July 1-3

Creature Capers - #1 Parent Vote

Whoooo done it? Campers use the power of observation to follow the trail and solve the mysteries of the animal kingdom. Start each day with a clue, inspect the zoo, and track down the animal culprit to earn your Detective Badge!

Offered at $330 the weeks of:
June 17
June 24
July 22
July 29
August 12

Offered at $200 the week of:
July 1-3

Tall Tales and Silly Songs

Have you ever wondered how a cheetah got its spots? How an elephant grew such a long trunk? Join us on a trip as we explore the animal kingdom through song and story. Of course, we’ll also visit the real-life characters and learn awesome facts about these storybook superstars.

Offered at $330 the weeks of:
June 17
June 24
July 22
July 29
August 12

Animagination

What’s it like to be as tall as a giraffe or swim like a sea turtle? In this fun and creative camp, your camper will discover a new animal each day and use their imaginations and dress-up costumes to become the creature!

Offered at $330 the weeks of:
June 3
June 10
July 8
July 15
August 5

6-7 Years Full Days

Zoo Science Investigators

Now you see me, now you don’t! Campers use detective skills and follow the trail to solve the mysteries of the animal kingdom. Start each day with a clue, inspect the zoo, and track down the animal culprit to earn your Detective Badge!

Offered at $330 the weeks of:
June 17
June 24
July 22
July 29
August 12

Offered at $200 the week of:
July 1-3

Magical Beasts

Calling all magicians! From the color changing chameleon to the glowing firefly, your camper will meet the magicians and illusionists of the animal kingdom and learn the secrets behind their fantastic feats of magic.

Offered at $330 the weeks of:
June 3
June 10
July 8
July 15
August 5

Things That Make You Go Ewe - #1 Parent Vote

From animals that poop on themselves to stay cool to those that use slime to change their color, this camp explores the gross yet fun stories behind the weirdest animal behavior. Discover why some of the things we think are “gross” are important to animals everywhere.

Offered at $330 the weeks of:
June 3
June 10
July 8
July 15
August 5

Offered at $200 the week of:
July 1-3

How to Train Your Dinosaur

Just like training a dinosaur (or a dragon), Zoo Keepers work hard to ensure the animals at the Zoo are happy and healthy. As we explore animals of the past and present, campers will learn a few training techniques of their own!

Offered at $330 the weeks of:
June 17
June 24
July 22
July 29
August 12

8-9 Years Full Day

Digging Up Dinos - #1 Parent Vote

Get ready to dig into the past! Campers will unearth what it takes to be a paleontologist while learning about the amazing animals they study. Discover prehistoric life that still exists today and go on a mock dig to discover animal artifacts.

Offered at $330 the weeks of:
June 3
June 10
July 8
July 15
August 5

Offered at $200 the week of:
July 1-3

Wildlife Vlogger

Has your camper dreamed of producing a video blog? Here is their chance to practice and hone their skills. Campers will use Houston Zoo equipment to create their own video blog (vlog) as they explore the Zoo in this technology-driven camp.

Offered at $330 the weeks of:
June 17
June 24
July 22
July 29
August 12

Wild Survival

Do you have what it takes to survive in the wild? Our animal counterparts can make it look easy. Join us as we delve into the realm of animal adaptations and pick up some survival skills along the way!

Offered at $330 the weeks of:
June 3
June 10
July 8
July 15
August 5

Animals In Action

We know that birds can fly and fish can swim, but how do they do it? Where does a chameleon keep its tongue when not hunting prey? How is a cheetah able to accelerate so quickly? The mechanics behind the wonders of the animal kingdom will be explored through this interactive camp!

Offered at $330 the weeks of:
June 17
June 24
July 22
July 29
August 12

10-12 Years Full Day

Excellent Enrichment

All zoo animals need enrichment to help encourage natural behaviors and promote exercise. Discover different types of enrichment and create some enrichment of your own.

Offered at $470 the weeks of:
June 10
July 22
August 5

Offered at $300 the week of:
July 1-3

Building the Zoo

Houston Zoo is under construction! Explore the Zoo through its architecture in this unique camp. We will look zoo design from historic exhibits, through modern zoos and explore the Houston Zoo’s master plan. This camp will include an overnight experience.

Offered at $500 the weeks of:
June 17
July 8
July 29

Keeper Camp - #1 Parent Vote

Think you have what it takes to be a zookeeper? Each day, discover more about the challenges faced by our keeper staff and the rewards their work can offer. Go behind the scenes and get an up close look into the world of zookeeping.

Offered at $470 the weeks of:
June 3
June 24
July 15
August 12

All Access

See below for additional information. This camp is for campers between the ages of 10 and 16 years old.

Offered at $1000 the weeks of:
June 3
June 10
June 17
June 24
July 8
July 15
July 22
July 29

13-16 Years Full Day

Keeper Connection - #1 Parent Vote

Zoo keepers have a unique connection to the animals they care for. Through this activity driven week, forge your own connections with our animal residents as you explore what it takes to build a bond between a zoo keeper and their charges. Work as a team to create a solution to a real challenge posed by one of our animal care team members.

Offered at $470 the weeks of:
June 3
July 8

Warriors for Wildlife

All around the world, Houston Zoo’s Wildlife Warriors are making a difference. From the Pantanal of Brazil to the forests of Borneo, these heroes are on the front lines saving animals. Discover their work and create a solution to a real-world challenge from one of ourwildlife conservation partners.

Offered at $470 the weeks of:
June 10
July 15

All Access

Has your camper dreamed of encountering the Houston Zoo animals and staff up-close and personal? In this immersive camp, your camper will visit a behind-the-scenes animal section every day. Campers will also get a tour of the Houston Zoo backlot and visit the departments that make the Zoo run. Animal experiences will vary based on animal and staff availability, but could include visiting Hoofed Mammals, Reptiles, Ambassador Animals, Sea Lions, Aquarium and more. Backlot areas may include animal nutrition, horticulture, theming workshop, recycling center and more. Not every encounter involves touching or feeding.

Offered at $1000 the weeks of:
June 3
June 10
June 17
June 24
July 8
July 15
July 22
July 29

Parent Information

Camp Communication is by Email. Check your email for a receipt! Please be sure you are receiving email from Camp Zoofari by checking your SPAM settings in your email. If registering for someone else, be sure to forward them all emails. Camp Zoofari communicates up to the start of camp via email. If you do not receive a receipt via email, please contact our office at education@houstonzoo.org to ensure you receive communications.

Camp Zoofari’s Policies

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the camp hours?

Gate 8 camp entrance opens and closes promptly at the hours below in order to begin the camp day. Our staff are not able to “hold the gate” for late arrivals.

Before camp programming is not a drop-off daycare style program. We conduct on-grounds activities with the early/late campers, so Gate 8 will not be staffed outside these hours. Campers not picked up by 4:15 pm will be charged $10 for the first 10 minutes and $5 a minute after that.

Gate 8 Access Hours

  • 7:30 – 7:45 Before Camp Programming ($15/day)
  • 8:45 – 9:15 Camp Registration
  • 3:45 – 4:15 Camp Pick Up

There is no After Camp Program offered during School Break Camps due to the schedule of TXU Presents Zoo Lights.

Where do I go when I arrive?

Please bring campers to Gate 8, located down the sidewalk to the left as you face the main entrance.

The City of Houston does not open the entrance to the Lot G (parking lot closest to Gate 8) until 9AM. When arriving before 9AM, use the entrance by Miller Outdoor Theater at the back of the parking lot (Lot E). Once in the parking lot, park anywhere in lots E, F or G and enter Camp at Gate 8. Gate 8 is only opened at scheduled times listed above.

If I am arriving late? What if I need to leave early?

Gate 8 will only be open the hours above. If you are arriving to pick up or drop off your child outside of these times, use the Zoo’s main entrance. Once inside the Zoo, you must check your child in or out with staff in the Brown Education Center (BEC) office. If checking out early, please allow extra time to find parking and for your camper to return from Zoo grounds back to our building.

Where should I park?

Please visit the Parking and Directions page for up-to-date information on parking around the Zoo. Lots E, F, G, H and I are all open to the public to park.

The free parking lots around Houston Zoo are owned and managed by the City of Houston Parks and Recreation Department and have no affiliation with Houston Zoo. They are intended for use of guests visiting Hermann Park, Miller Outdoor Theater, Centennial Gardens, Houston Zoo, and the other museums in the area.

We understand parking can be difficult, especially in the afternoon.  We are unable to offer a carpool lane as emergency vehicles must have access to the Zoo. We cannot block the road and driveway leading into the Zoo.  Because the lot is owned and managed by the City of Houston, we are unable to block or reserve any part of the parking lot for camp participants.

Please do not park in the handicapped spaces or loading zones along the curb outside Gate 8 (Red box below) unless you have a permit, as you may be ticketed or towed. Please do not park there, even if you see others parking in these zones.

City of Houston Parking Enforcement and Houston Police routinely patrol the area and write tickets to camp parents parking in these spaces when they begin blocking access to the street and driveway to emergency vehicles. Houston Zoo is not responsible for fines received.

I want my camper to be with friends. What should I do?

Because Winter Break camp is smaller than Summer camp, campers will be together frequently without the need to request friends be together. Therefore, we are not accepting friend pair-up requests during Winter Break camps.

What do I do if my child has allergies?

If your child has food allergies, please include this information when registering. We are not able to offer alternative snacks. You are welcome to provide a snack for your own child if allergies are a concern.

My child needs to take medication; how should I arrange for this?

The Houston Zoo does NOT administer medication to children, nor does it allow campers to self-medicate and does not permit medication (OTC or prescription) at camp with the exception of emergency medications (inhalers, epi-pens, etc.). Please consult a physician so medication can be administered outside of camp. To ensure a positive experience for all campers, it is IMPERATIVE that you notify us of any special needs or medical conditions your child may have. We will accommodate these needs to the best of our ability.

What should I pack for meals?

Camp Zoofari is a “high energy” activity with several hours of walking around the Zoo, so campers should eat a hearty breakfast before arrival.  We provide bagged snacks (pretzels, cookies or crackers) in the morning and afternoon.  Water is also offered throughout the day at refillable water stations in the Zoo.  We recommend bringing a reusable water bottle to keep your camper hydrated.

All campers must bring a lunch daily. Due to safety concerns, glass containers are prohibited.  Juice boxes with straws are not allowed. There is not a microwave available for use.

Some items are not recommended. Please pack clear liquids or juices only for drinking.  Please see lunch recommendations below.

Recommended:

  • Sandwich or “Lunchable”
  • Whole fruit
  • Vegetables
  • Reusable containers
  • Water or Sport Drinks
  • Clear fruit juice
  • Cereal bars
  • String cheese

Not Recommended:

  • Yogurt and “Gogurt”
  • Milk
  • Difficult to open packages
  • Soda
  • Smoothies
  • Sushi
  • Mayonnaise-based salads
  • Thick fruit/vegetable juice

Not Allowed:

  • Glass containers
  • Food that requires heating or cooking
  • Food for other campers
  • Juice boxes with a plastic straw

Can I bring snacks for the group?

Due to dietary restrictions of participants, please do not bring snacks (such as cupcakes) for your child’s class as we are unable to allow these to be shared with the group.

My camper is sensitive to transitions or elements like light, sound or smells. Is Camp Zoofari a good fit for my camper?

The answer really depends upon your camper. Camp Zoofari can be very overwhelming to some campers with these sensitivities, yet others do extremely well at camp.  You know your camper best and what he or she may be able to safely and comfortably experience.

Camp takes place outdoors, in the Houston Zoo, for 4.5 hours each day.  Camp groups do not have a dedicated classroom space.  The spaces you see at check-in and check-out are only used for that purpose.  There are indoor activities in a variety of buildings. The Zoo is a public space and can be crowded and/or loud. Additionally, our proximity to the Medical Center means sirens and helicopters can routinely be heard inside the Zoo.   Live animals and food vendors produce a variety of smells.  Campers must be able to use public restrooms, which have electric hand-driers, without assistance. Campers complete multiple transitions each day as they move between exhibits and buildings.  Each building may have different lighting based on the needs of the animals in those spaces.

We do our best to prepare all campers by sharing the plan for the day with them each morning and announcing transitions before they occur.

If you have a question or concern, please call our office at 713-533-6739 before registering. We are unable to offer refunds for campers who leave camp early because the sensory elements or transitions are too much for them to handle.

What does my camper do all day?

See what your campers will discover each day on our Parent Page. We also post camp photos in the week following camp.  This page will be updated June 1, 2018 and then weekly after that.

You can also register for our new family camps for a first-hand look at the Camp Zoofari experience!

May I enroll my child in a camp for an older 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.  We divide the campers by their birthdate into smaller groups for Zoo tours and activities.

How are campers supervised?

Camp Zoofari is proudly licensed by the State of Texas as a youth day camp.  The law requires at least 1 adult to every 10 campers.  Camp Zoofari exceeds this requirement by staffing 1 adult and one teen to every 8 campers.

Campers are supervised at all times and are escorted on restroom breaks.  However, our staff are not allowed to enter the restroom stalls to assist campers and must remain outside of the bathroom of the opposite gender.    All campers must be able to use a public restroom without assistance.

What should I bring/pack?

You must bring the following:

  1. Camp shirt
  2. Close-toes shoes
  3. Reusable water bottle
  4. Lunch

You may want to also 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.
  • Camera for older campers.

Can I bring a backpack?

Campers are only in the space parent’s see for check-in and check-out. Camp takes place on Zoo Grounds and campers must be able to carry everything themselves. Cubbies are available for children to store items they don’t want to carry in the Zoo. Please do not bring any personal electronics, such as tablets or gaming systems as these items could be lost.  Houston Zoo is not responsible for any personal electronic devices brought.

Does my child need to wear their camp shirt every day?

Yes, a camp t-shirt must be worn each day of Camp Zoofari. One shirt is included in the registration fee.  You may purchase additional shirts at the time of registration for $10 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. Closings will also be communicated via the Houston Zoo Facebook page.

What are the camp rules?

  1. Listen and follow instructions
  2. Participate in camp activities
  3. Respect others
  4. Respect property
  5. Have fun!

Should a camper forget the camp rules, one of our Camp Guides will remind them of the camp rules. If the behavior continues, the camper will be removed and parents called to speak to them. In the event improvement is not realized after a phone call, the camper shall be sent home for the remainder of the day. A return to camp the following day will be at our discretion. Refunds are not provided for campers sent home for failing to follow the rules.

Any further questions?

Contact Us:
education@houstonzoo.org
Education Number: 713-533-6739

Highlights from Camp Zoofari

Parent Comments

“This is one of the absolute best camps in the city. I feel that the kids learn so much and are very well cared for. I truly have zero complaints! I loved the addition of pictures this year so we could see some of what our kids did. I also loved the suggested questions each day that we could ask them.”

“It was a fantastic experience. Staff was so great and enthusiastic!”

“I think both of our kids were completely engaged and learned so much – some of the things they told us would just blow us away.”

“Your wonderful staff! She is greeted by name enthusiastically coming and going. Her counselors have taken the time to get to know her and have personalized interactions with her daily. She feels valued, listened to, and cared for at Zoofari.”

“All the camp leaders are very friendly and activities well organized. This was our first year but my son said this was his favorite camp by far.”

“LOVE the before/aftercare!!!! Huge thanks for adding that.”

Campers Made a Difference

Every camper had the opportunity to partner with Houston Zoo in saving wildlife.

  • 73% of the campers pledged to use a reusable water bottle during camp and the rest of the summer to help Take Action to save sea turtles.
  • 4392 single-use plastic bottles were avoided by campers bringing and refilling bottles in the Brown Conservation Education Center refill stations.
  • Ten campers donated cell phones or their own money to the Zoo to help protect gorilla habitat.
  • Campers recycled their lunch trash! 17% of camper’s total waste at lunch was recycling.
See them.
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See them. Save them.