Activities & Resources
Minnesota Zoo050in Saint Paul, MN 55124
about Minnesota Zoo:
The indoor portion of the zoo comprises the Tropics Trail, which recreates a Southeast Asian rain forest, and houses sun bears, lemurs, and an aquarium; Discovery Bay, where visitors can learn about dolphin behavior during and explore hands-on exhibits, including a touch pool; and the recently-revamped Minnesota Trail which features pumas, wolverines, otters, and beavers. When visiting the Tropics Trail, keep an eye out for a small, easy-to-miss play area across from the tree kangaroo exhibit. Climb through the tunnel to get a new view, and if you're visiting that area right around opening time, you might even hear the gibbons "singing"!
Daily shows include shark feedings and coral reef diving (dolphin shows are temporarily suspended while the zoo grows the pod); see the website for a complete schedule. In summer, visitors can see bird shows in an outdoor amphitheater; those shows move indoors for the winter.
At the seasonal Wells Fargo Farm, visitors can see baby animals and other domesticated work animals. The Zoo also hosts big-name entertainers during the outdoor Music in the Zoo festival each summer, and maintains a butterfly garden.
Board the Monorail, which runs daily - weather-permitting - on the upper level behind Discovery Bay. The trip is narrated live and gives riders a view of Northern Hemisphere animals. Rides cost $4 for ages three and up; $2 for members.
The Call of the Wild food court serves fast food-type meals and some salads, vegetarian, and grilled options. The Zoo Cafe, just to the left of the entrance, serves treats and Caribou coffee drinks. Snacks are also sold at outdoor kiosks during the summer, along with meals at a restaurant at the seasonal Wells Fargo Farm.
Stroller rental ($5/singles; $7/doubles) is available at the Guest Services desk to the right of the entry, and if the hustle of the zoo gets to be too much, families with children ages three to eight can take a breather in the quiet Kid's Den (formerly the Zoo Lab), located just past the cafe on the left. There, they'll find dress up clothes, puppets, books, a fish tank, and craft supplies. Strollers must be left outside the door.
The zoo also offers several gift shops and kiosks, including a stuff-a-plushie cart set up at the end of the Tropics Trail.
Combine a trip to the zoo with a large-format film at the Great Clips IMAX Theatre, located right beside it; combo tickets provide discounts on both attractions.
Parties: For $70, plus per guest fees of $4/child and $7/adult, zoo parties include invitations; admission for all guests; birthday cake, soda, and tableware; party favors; a store discount; and a keepsake photo. With decorated tables tucked into nooks along the main corridor, parties here offer little in the way of privacy, and can feel a little cookie-cutter. That said, they are still a good option for animal lovers. (Birthday parties can also be arranged at the seasonal Wells Fargo Farm!) Call 952.431.9213 to book.
Classes: The zoo offers a wide range of educational programming, including preschool and family classes, family overnights, and behind-the-scenes tours. Kids ages ten and up (under 16 must be accompanied by a paying adult) can also enjoy Dolphin Encounters, a three-hour interactive program; $125/participant. Some class fees may even be tax-deductible!
Summer Camps: Single-day and weeklong themed programs are offered for ages four and up, including full-day and half-day options. Rates start at $32 for a single preschool day; $155 for half-day for Grades 1-6; and $235-$320 for full-day camps for Grades 1-12.
Membership: Benefits include free admission; discounts on classes, parties, camps, IMAX tickets, and store merchandise; reciprocity privileges at zoos nationwide; and discounts at Grand Rios water park and hotel, located about 45 minutes from the zoo. Household memberships start at $85/year.
Volunteers: Teenagers can become Zooteen volunteers and assist summer camp staff with activities. Other opportunities are available throughout the year during special events. Training takes place Saturdays in May. Kids ages 15 and up can also volunteer on the farm; training is offered in April and May. Occasionally, there are other opportunities for children as young as ten years old to volunteer accompanied by a parent. Contact the zoo at 952.431.9202 or firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Donations: Families can select a specific animal to sponsor, and receive educational information and a gift in return. These adoptions provide kids with a "personal" connection to the zoo, and help defray the zoo's costs.