Behind the scenes tours

Animal Encounter Tours

What color is a giraffe's tongue? What do penguin feathers feel like? How do you draw blood from a rhino? Follow a veteran keeper through the staff-only doors to see what it takes to run a zoo - from providing an enriching environment to recreating an ocean - on our behind the scenes Animal Encounter Tours. All Encounter Tours are documented by a photographer.

Sea Otter Encounter

Available Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from 12 p.m. to 1:30 p.m.

New for 2016! Enter the world of sea life at the Oregon Zoo. Go behind the scenes at the sea otter exhibit and discover how the zoo creates an ocean for marine mammals. Tour one of the zoo's largest animal area kitchens and view a keeper feeding session before getting the chance to feed the otters yourself.

Hippo/Rhino Encounter

Available Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from 12 p.m. to 1:30 p.m.

Start your tour in the animal commissary to see the variety of animal diets and treats. Go behind the scenes at the hippo/rhino barn and learn from a keeper how the zoo cares for these amazing animals. Discover just how large a rhino is when you're standing right next to one and how impressive a hippo mouth is as you feed them a favorite treat.

Penguin Encounter

Available Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from 12 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. starting April 2016

Experience the penguinarium from the other side of the glass with one of the zoo's keepers while you learn what it takes to care for and successfully breed these unique animals. Get up close and personal with a penguin and end your tour in the Marine Life exhibit.

 

Giraffe Encounter

Available Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from 12 p.m.-1:30 p.m.

Start your tour in the animal commissary to see what animals eat and discover the importance of zoo nutrition and diet. Go behind the scenes in the giraffe barn and experience how the zoo cares for these long-legged beauties. See and feel how unique a giraffe tongue is when you feed them a healthy treat.

Cost

$120 per person, including zoo admission and photographs

Registration Information

  • Children ages 13 and up are welcome.
  • Encounter tours are intimate experiences for groups of six or fewer.
  • Advance registration is required. Find available dates or make a reservation by calling the Education Office at 503-220-2781, or email tracy.modde@oregonzoo.org.
  • Programs involving zoo animals are subject to change or cancellation based on animal needs. However, every effort will be made to offer alternate areas or reschedule tours.
  • All Animal Encounter tours require walking in working areas that include stairs and are not wheelchair-accessible.

Discovery Tours 

What's the best way to give a rhino a checkup? How much seafood does it take to feed a pair of sea otters? Follow a veteran keeper through the staff-only doors to see what it takes to run a zoo - from providing an enriching environment to recreating an ocean - on our behind-the-scenes discovery tours.

Discover the Great Northwest!

Available Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. from April through October

The Oregon Zoo has recreated the entire Pacific Northwest – from mountains to coast - in the space of ten acres. Go behind the scenes of the black bear, sea otter and seal exhibits to discover the many moving parts of this complex operation and learn about how keepers care for these native Northwest animals.

Discover Africa!

Available Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 12 p.m.-1:30 p.m. from April through October

Go behind the scenes in the African Savanna to see where the giraffes, hippos, rhinos and lions call home. Learn about the care these animals receive and the vital role training plays in their welfare. 

Cost 

Zoo members: $35 per person
Non members: $45 per person
Fee includes zoo admission.

Registration Information

  • Children ages 10 and up are welcome.
  • Space is limited and advance registration is required. Find available dates or make a reservation by calling the Education Office at 503-220-2781, or email tracy.modde@oregonzoo.org.
  • Programs involving zoo animals are subject to change or cancellation based on animal needs. However, every effort will be made to offer alternate areas or reschedule tours. Please note that Discovery tours do not include animal contact. In addition, because these tours take place during zoo hours, animals will generally be on exhibit and not in the behind the scenes areas.
  • All discovery tours require walking in working areas that include stairs and not wheelchair-accessible.