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Socially Distant Animal Encounters

A portion of each Animal Encounter purchase goes towards protecting animals in the wild.

Interact with one of Africa’s rarest species during this one-of-a-kind experience. Get eye-to-eye with Kwame “Kwaa-mey” and Sukari “Sue-car-e” as you visit their habitat and learn about the closest living relatives to the giraffe. We will provide their favorite food items for an opportunity to feed them, but it will be their choice to eat this leafy treat.

Required: All guests 10 years and older must properly wear a mask during the entire animal experience for the safety of our other guests, staff and animals.

MEMBERS $125 per person
NON-MEMBERS $150 per person
REGISTER

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.

Ages 4 and Up
This Animal Encounter is not permitted for kids under age 4. Please register at least one adult per child under 12 in your party.

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

This is truly a VIP experience! Join our sea lion training team for a rare opportunity to participate in an interactive training session complete with a little play time. Spending time playing with our California sea lions may include ball tosses, frisbee catches and more. It will also include a perfect photo opportunity with one of our sea lion ambassadors. Most important of all, learn about what you can do at home to help save sea lions in the wild.

Required: All guests 10 years and older must properly wear a mask during the entire animal experience for the safety of our other guests, staff and animals.

MEMBERS $125 per person
NON-MEMBERS $150 per person

REGISTER

Additional 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.

Ages 4 and Up
This Animal Encounter is not permitted for kids under age 4. Please register at least one adult per child under 12 in your party.

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

 

Collaborate with our sea lion artists and their keepers to create a one-of-kind masterpiece you get to take home! During this private experience, you and up to 3 persons from your quarantine household will select the colors and see your 8×10 canvas come to life. Whether through broad and sweeping brush strokes, or delicately placed nose prints, our sea lion artists are sure to delight everyone in the family.

Required: All guests 10 years and older must properly wear a mask during the entire animal experience for the safety of our other guests, staff and animals.

MEMBERS $325 per quarantine household (up to 4 persons)
NON-MEMBERS $350 per quarantine household (up to 4 persons)

REGISTER

Additional 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.

Ages 4 and Up
This Animal Encounter is not permitted for kids under age 4. Please register at least one adult per child under 12 in your party.

Encounter Size Limit
This exclusive encounter is limited to just one quarantine household of up to four people per encounter.

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, you will have the opportunity to capture a photo of our sea lion artist with your finished masterpiece that you can share with friends and family.

Get hand to trunk with one of our Asian elephants and see first-hand how keepers build relationships with these amazing animals! You will have an opportunity to feed, hear stories about our herd and touch one of these amazing creatures with a photo opportunity you can share with your friends and family.

Required: All guests 10 years and older must properly wear a mask during the entire animal experience for the safety of our other guests, staff and animals.

MEMBERS $195 per person
NON-MEMBERS $220 per person
Register

Additional 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.

 

Here’s your chance to experience first-hand what it’s like to bathe an elephant! Head behind-the-scenes to help scrub down one of our herd. Then feed and touch one of these amazing creatures with a photo opportunity you can share with your friends and family. For an extra special experience, add-on the opportunity to see an elephant paint a one-of-a-kind masterpiece that you and your family can take home.

Required: All guests 10 years and older must properly wear a mask during the entire animal experience for the safety of our other guests, staff and animals.

MEMBERS $800 per quarantine household (up to 6 persons)
NON-MEMBERS $850 per quarantine household (up to 6 persons)
Optional add-on $200 for a custom 16×20 art canvas created by our elephant herd during your experience
Register

Additional 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 one quarantine household of no more then six people per encounter.

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.

 

Come and see these giant, slow-motion reptiles. Take the perfect tortoise selfie when you’re up close with some of the Zoo’s longest-lived residents, the Galápagos tortoises. During this experience, you’ll have special access into our Galápagos  tortoise habitat, learning all about Daphne, Seymour, and Pinta while offering them a favorite snack.

Pro tip: Feet are friends, not food. Our tortoises might confuse red shoes for treats, so it’s best to leave your red shoes at home for this one (yes, we’re serious). Closed-toe shoes are required.

Required: All guests 10 years and older must properly wear a mask during the entire animal experience for the safety of our other guests, staff and animals.

MEMBERS $65 per person
NON-MEMBERS $90 per person
REGISTER

Encounter 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.

Ages 5 and Up
This Animal Encounter is not permitted for kids under age 5. Please register at least one adult per child under 12 in your party.

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

 

Purchase An Encounter Gift Certificate

Give the gift every animal lover wants!

This gift certificate allows you to purchase any of the experiences below 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.

OKAPI ENCOUNTER

VIP Sea Lion Training EXPERIENCE

Galápagos TORTOISE Encounter

Elephant Encounter

Animal Encounters FAQ

What happens on an animal encounter?

Our Animal Encounters are unique opportunities 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 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 to the left of the Stroller and Wagon Rental kiosk just inside the Zoo entrance. From there you will be escorted on your Animal Encounter.

Stroller and Wagon Rental Kiosk

Do we need to print our tickets?

There is no need to print tickets; simply show the ticket on your phone when you enter. Your Animal Encounter tickets are exempt from the timed ticket procedures and you are welcome to enter the Zoo anytime on the day of your experience.

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. Certain Encounters are accessible for guests using wheelchairs,  including the Elephant Encounter.

Required: All guests 10 years and older must wear a mask, face covering or face shield, for the safety of our guests, staff and animals.

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