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Camp Zoofari FAQs and Policies

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 to ensure you receive communications.

Due to the high demand for camp spaces, all sales are considered final. Patrons who provide a written notice of cancellation to on or before November 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. Before camp fees and 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.

There will be a rescheduling fee of $35 per camper per topic or date change. Requests must be made in writing to Changes are subject to availability. Camp registration is not transferable between campers.

Camp Drop-Off/Pick-Up Hours

8:45AM – 9:15AM   Camp Check-In
3:45PM – 4:15PM    Camp Check-Out

Any camper remaining after camp pick-up has ended is subject to a late fee of $10 for the first 10 minutes and then $5/minute after that.

Emergency Contacts and Authorized Individuals
If you are the parent/guardian of the camper and plan to pick up your child every day, you will need to list your name in the emergency contact section when registering. If you are not picking up your child, add all those approved to pick up your child in the emergency contacts of your registration. Please provide the person’s full, legal name and not their nickname on their photo identification. The name on the roster must match the exact spelling and name photo ID. If you’re not sure who will be picking up your child daily, you will have the opportunity to include additional names on the pickup list when you drop off your camper each day. For the safety of your camper, this policy will be followed to ensure no unauthorized individuals try to remove your camper from Camp Zoofari.

Photo Identification and Sign-In/Out
To comply with State of Texas regulations and for the safety and protection of campers, we require a photo ID (name and photo BOTH on a plastic printed card i.e. driver’s license, school ID, credit card w/ photo, work ID, or passport) presented to the camp teacher when signing your child out at the end of the day, or a visible pick-up pass sent out prior to the start of camp. The name printed on the ID must match the name on the roster. For safety reasons, our staff are not allowed to make assumptions about nicknames. This procedure will occur every day, every time you pick up your camper. If you forget your identification in your vehicle, you will be asked to retrieve your ID before you can sign your camper out. For the safety of our campers, there are NO exceptions to this policy and we ask that you assist us in making check-out safe and seamless by carrying your ID at all times and passing this information along to anyone approved by you to pick up your camper. Thank you for your cooperation!

You may park in the Hermann Park main parking lot (lot G). This free lot is for the use of the entire Hermann Park and Museum District area, as well as the Medical Center. Unauthorized vehicles parking in the handicapped spaces or loading zones in front of Gate 8 may be ticketed. The Houston Zoo is NOT responsible for paying fines received.

No Cell Phone Policy at Camp Zoofari
Camp Zoofari is a high-energy experience filled with fun, interactive activities. We want your child to enjoy their experience connecting to nature and wildlife so we ask you to please refrain from sending your child to camp with a cell phone.

If you need to speak with your child during camp hours, please call our Education Office at 713-533-6739. We will be happy to have your child speak with you.

Should a situation arise at camp in which your child needs to speak with you or you need to be notified of a concern regarding your child such as an illness, we will contact you using the emergency contact information you provided. On Monday morning, please check your child’s roster to verify the emergency contact information provided during registration is correct. Please be sure to provide us with a phone number that will be answered during the camp day.

Camper Requirements
Camp Zoofari is a program designed for children who can remain in a group setting without parental involvement. In addition to age requirements, campers must be:
• Toilet trained
• Able to use public restrooms without assistance
• Able to spend at least 4.5 hours of the camp day outside, walking around the Zoo

We are happy to accommodate campers with sensory processing challenges or special needs as long as they do not interfere with the health and safety of other campers or the animals in our care.  Please contact our offices before registering to discuss any needs your camper may have to determine if Camp Zoofari is right for your camper.

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

  • 8:45 – 9:15 Camp Drop Off
  • 3:45 – 4:15 Camp Pick Up

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. A map will be sent out in advance of your camper’s session showing how to utilize the camp drop-off lane. Guests are welcome to park and walk up to Gate 8 as well.

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. Staff at the entrance will radio to Education staff, who can retrieve your camper(s) and escort them to Gate 8. Additionally, you can call at 713-533-6739 to notify our staff of an early pick-up. 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?

If campers have a friend request listed on their registration, we will do everything we can to pair those campers together. That said, camp is designed to foster new friendships and is an important part of early childhood development. There are no guarantees that we will be able to pair up campers as we assign them to their camp group by birth-date. We do this so that a camper on the youngest end of the age group is not placed with a camper in the oldest end of the age group or vice versa. (For example, a camper who just turned 7 is not placed in a camp group with a camper who is currently 9, but will be 10-years-old in a month).

Campers registered for the same topic and day will spend time together throughout the day, only breaking into smaller subgroups for individual Zoo tours.

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.


  • 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.

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?

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. Camp Guide ratios are 1:8 for our older groups, and 1:6 for our youngest group.

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 Number: 713-533-6739