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All Encounters

Elephant Encounter

Get hand to trunk with one of our Asian elephants. Join an elephant keeper on a behind-the-scenes encounter of our elephant building. Touch one of these amazing creatures with a photo opportunity you can share with your friends and family.

Fridays from 12:45 – 1:30 p.m.

Members $195 per person
Non-Members $220 per person

A portion of each Behind the Scenes purchase goes towards protecting animals in the wild.

Get the Details

All day Zoo admission included!
The Zoo opens daily at 9 a.m. Explore the Zoo at your leisure before or after your Animal Encounter.

All Ages
This Animal Encounter is intended for all ages. Please register at least one adult per child under 12 in your party.

Encounter Size Limit
This exclusive encounter is limited to just twelve people per encounter. If you have fewer than twelve in your party, you may be joined by other registrants, not to exceed twelve persons total.

Capturing the Moment
For the safety and well-being of our animal residents, there is no flash photography allowed in this area. Don’t worry though, we have a special photo moment opportunity planned for you during your encounter that you can share with friends and family.

Elephant Encounter Gift Certificate

Give the gift every animal lover wants!

This gift certificate allows you to purchase an Elephant Encounter and the recipient to choose from available dates. A PDF of your gift certificate is attached to your receipt for convenient presentation. Recipients may redeem their certificate up to six months from the date of purchase.

Certificates are non-refundable. Certificates must be redeemed within six months from date of purchase.

Purchase An Elephant Encounter Gift Certificate

Animal Encounters FAQ

What happens on an animal encounter?

Our Animal Encounters are unique opportunities that take you behind the scenes to meet our zookeepers and get up close to your favorite animals. Each encounter is an interactive experience designed with our animals’ welfare in mind. Animal Encounters are 45-minutes long beginning with a 15-minute front of scenes tour led by our Conservation Education staff.  We’ll spend the remaining time with our keeper meeting the animal(s), learning about how they are cared for and the challenges these animals face in the wild.

Interactions with the animals will be determined by our zookeepers. Our staff are experts in determining what is appropriate based on the animal’s behavior that day. Our Animal Encounters, which are conducted following AZA standards, allow guests to be as close as possible to their favorite animals while keeping the animals’ well-being at the forefront of every interaction.

How early should I arrive?

Allow plenty of time for parking and arrival. The Zoo opens at 9 a.m., and you are welcome to explore the Zoo before and after your Animal Encounter. Guests arriving 5 minutes or more past the scheduled start time will be unable to join the Behind the Scenes experience.

Where do I park?

Parking is the same as for any other Zoo visit; check our Directions webpage if you need more information on directions, parking and arrival options. Free parking outside our gates in Hermann Park can fill quickly. Guests arriving 5 minutes or more past the scheduled start time will be unable to join the Animal Encounter.

Where do I meet?

Meet your guide at the main Zoo entrance. From there you will be escorted on your Animal Encounter.

Do we need to print our tickets?

There is no need to print tickets; simply show the ticket on your phone when you enter.

What is the dress code?

Plan on walking with Zoo staff throughout this Animal Encounter, and please dress comfortably for the weather. Closed-toe shoes are required.

What happens if it rains?

Animal Encounters are rain or shine. This encounter is primarily outdoors, please dress for the weather and for walking during this Animal Encounter.

What else do I need to know?

Animal Encounters are a guided walking experience. Some Encounters require guests to walk long distances, upstairs or through tight spaces. Certain Encounters are accessible for guests using wheelchairs. They include Behind the Scenes at Gorillas, Big Cat Training Window, Cheetah Walk, Dingo Walk and Elephant Encounter.
Please advise us of any disabilities, special needs, medical conditions or any other concerns you may have that could prevent you from fully participating in the experience. The more information you can provide, the better we can assist you.

Please note: Service animals are not permitted on any of the Animals Encounters or Behind the Scenes Experiences.

What if I need to cancel?

Cancellations must be made 7 days in advance or payment will be forfeited. Cancellations must be made in writing and sent to animalencounters@houstonzoo.org

Any Other Questions?

For questions regarding this or any other Animal Encounter, call the Conservation Education department (713) 533-6500 or email animalencounters@houstonzoo.org