Kids to explore world of wildlife at winter break camp

November 30, 2012 - 2:03pm

Oregon Zoo program guides campers on animal odyssey from the tropics to the arctic

When schools close for winter break, release your children into the wilds of the Oregon Zoo!

The Oregon Zoo's winter break camp program –running Dec. 18-21, Dec. 27-28, and Jan. 2-4 - will include guided tours of the zoo, art projects, games and special visits from animals that campers can touch. Games, crafts and stories with zoo-animal themes add to the daily experiences.

"Each of our camps offers something different to fit our campers' interests," said Jennifer Whitener, the zoo's camps and classes supervisor. "Kids will get to explore different eco-regions and discover how the animals that live there have adapted to survive and thrive in the winter."


  • At Polar Prowl camp (Dec. 18 and Jan. 2), kids will discover how mountain goats, tigers, polar bears and sea otters adapt to live their icy and extreme habitats.
  • Winter Safari (Dec. 19 and Jan. 3), sends campers on a trek through the Predators of the Serengeti exhibit to learn how the zoo cares for our warm-weather animals during the Northwest winters.
  • The Great Northwest Cold Rush! (Dec. 20 and Jan. 4) brings campers to the glacier-fed streams of the Northwest exhibit to discover how bald eagles, salmon and cougars survive the winter.
  • Short Days/ Long Nights (Dec. 21- Winter Solstice) This camp, held on the shortest day of the year, lets kids discover which animals like the day and which prefer the night.
  • Tropics Trek (Dec. 27) — Transports campers from a cold Oregon winter to the tropics of Asia, where elephants, sun bears and orangutans have adapted to warm weather.
  • South for the Winter (Dec. 28) Lets campers explore the wild wonders of South America, from the caiman-teeming waters of the Amazon to cool Peruvian coastline where Humboldt penguins dwell.

Each day of camp includes age-appropriate crafts, songs, stories, snacks, an animal visitor and zoo tour, all surrounding a zoo animal theme.

The zoo encourages parents to check their campers' school break schedules before registering for camp. Some themes repeat to give children in school districts with different break schedules a chance to join the fun.

Day camps are held December 18-21, 2012, December 27-28, 2012 and January 2-4, 2013. Camp hours are 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Each day is $35 per person for zoo members and $38 per person for non-members. Camp programs are available for children 4 years of age through 4th grade. Early care, late care and lunches are available at an added charge. Visit to learn more.

Since 1983, the zoo's professional camp staff has been guiding children in exploring and discovering the wonders of the zoo through fun, hands-on learning. Proceeds help fund the zoo's conservation and education programs.

During December, the zoo also hosts a variety of holiday-themed activities, including ZooLights (Nov. 23-Dec. 31) and Presents for Primates (Dec. 17-18).