Activities & Resources
Como Zoo554in Saint Paul, MN 55103
about Como Zoo:
The zoo is compact, though a leisurely circuit can still take several hours. Primates, large cats, birds, and African hoofed animals can be viewed inside buildings and out - but the polar bears are away while their new environment is under construction! The new Leonard Wilkening Children's Gallery (open April 19, 2008) helps kids learn about nature and the circle of life through five stations of interactive exhibits, hands-on activities, and imaginative play.
Como is more than 100 years old, founded in 1897 with just three deer in a fenced pasture! Its age shows in some of the exhibits, which harken back to the days when cement cells were the norm, but it's a mistake to dismiss Como as the poorer sister of the Minnesota Zoo (which was built after a committee deemed Como couldn't be expanded). Free admission is just one of the simple pleasures it has to offer.
Sparky the Sea Lion - or rather, her latest incarnation - has been performing in the amphitheater for 50 years now, with two shows daily (Tue-Sun) in the summer. She's still popular - be sure to nab a spot on the benches early for weekend shows! - but the zoo's Halloween ZooBoo fundraiser each October is an even bigger draw.
In winter months, the coffee, salads, and sandwiches at Zobota Cafe are the only options for on-site food. Concession stands serving popcorn, ice cream, pizza, and other treats open for the summer ... but be warned that bees seem to be some of the best customers at the main stand, especially late in the season!
Rent single or double strollers ($4/day; $6.50/day) year-round at the refurbished Visitor Center. That's also where you'll find the gift shop and restrooms; additional restrooms open at Seal Island in the summer months.
Birthday parties: Basic package includes 90 minutes in a private classroom, with 45 minutes of interactive programming tied to a chosen theme; $150/15 guests, including adults. Add pizza, drinks, and cake for $50 more. Themes include primates, cats, reptiles, and plants. Gift bags are available for $5/child. Due to safety concerns, no balloons, pinatas, or pets are allowed! For do-it-yourself parties, obtain a city rental permit (651.632.5111) for the picnic space near Seal Island.
Classes: Extensive offerings include parent/child programs for ages three to five, family classes for ages four and up, camps during school release days, and special homeschooler programming for ages five to fifteen. Classes typically feature visits from live animals and/or tours. Art and gardening classes for adults, and teacher workshops are also offered.
Summer camps: Como offers themed week-long programs for ages four and up. Full-day and half-day options are available; before or after care offered for an additional fee.
Membership: $60/family, includes gift shop and class discounts, invitations to member-only events, reciprocity privileges at over 120 zoos nationwide, a quarterly newsletter, and four ZooBoo tickets.
Volunteering: Como offers a special summer volunteer program for teens ages 13 to 17. Beyond that, volunteers must be 16 years old, unless accompanied by an adult.