Safari Mini-Camps

When school is out, Safari Camps are in!

Safari Mini-Camps provide the perfect adventure for campers that have the drive and desire to discover an affection for animals. Camps feature animal experiences, zoo expeditions, engineering authentic solutions to real-world challenges, and hands-on, camper-driven exploration. Sessions are available for children in Pre-K through 3rd Grade. Pre-K must be at least 4 years old. Morning and afternoon snacks are included. Campers: bring a lunch and join us for our Fall, Winter, and Spring Safari Mini-Camps!

Program Information

Spring Safari Mini-Camps

Pre-K - Twisted Tails

We all know classic fairy tales that feature creatures, but would the tale be the same from the animal’s point of view?  Explore Zoo critters from classic tales, compare similar stories from different cultures… and hear some just plain funny versions, too!

March 27 - The Three Little Pigs (Wolves and Canines)

We’ve all heard the tale, but are wolves always the mean ones, and pigs always the heroes?  How did the Big, Bad Wolf get such a bad rap, anyway?  Discover the positive side of wolves and other canine species, and learn about how wild pigs can be!

March 28 - Goldilocks and the Three Bears (Bears)

Who’s been eating our porridge?  Not our grizzlies or polar bears!  Find out what these creatures really eat and what kinds of beds are just right for them.

March 29 - Little Red Riding Hood/Tortuga in Trouble (Reptiles)

My, what big TEETH we have here at Denver Zoo!  Tortuga in Trouble explores the traditional tale of “Little Red Riding Hood” with a Spanish twist. Campers will encounter reptilian creatures with some fantastic features and brilliant behaviors. But are these going to be enough to escape the big, bad wolf?

March 30 – The Tortoise and the Hare (Fast and Slow Animals)

Discover whether slow and steady truly wins the race during this fast-paced camp day!  Partake in some animal challenges, and see if you can jump farther than a hare.  What is the fastest animal on land, in the air, and in the water, and which animals live at a leisurely pace for a long, long time?  Who would win in a race between a tortoise and a sloth?  What about a cheetah and a falcon?  Find out, before times run out!

March 31 – The Little Golden Lion Tamarin (Primates)

Who would want to miss out on creating a new monkey story based on the classic Little Red Hen?  “Not I!” said the campers!  Help the “Little Golden Lion Tamarin” find its place in the world as you learn about primates, large and small.  Is it hard to be a monkey?  Discover how their amazing eyes, hands, and tails work, and whether or not they can really use tools!


Kindergarten - 1st Grade - Fantastical Beasts

Even magical creatures like unicorns and dragons have things in common with real animals.  Compare fantastical beasts with those at the zoo, and discover why animals – real and imaginary - look the way they do.

March 27 – Cyclops and Centaur

Unearth ancient animal myths and legends, and make connections to real-life zoo animals! Learn which animal skulls influenced legends about the Cyclops, and think about what type of half-human, half-animal creature you would choose to be!

March 28 – Dragons

Were there ever any giant, flying, flame-breathing lizards devastating the countryside?  If not, then why are dragons so popular in legends?  Get fired-up to discover the links between the real “dragons” at the Zoo and their mythical cousins.

March 29 – Bigfoot and Yeti

Big hairy apes are real, but what about those walking on two legs and living in North America or in the mountains of Tibet?  Learn about these and other giants, and the “evidence” that may have given rise to these “tall” tales.  How do the apes of Denver Zoo compare?  Whose feet are bigger?

March 30 – Phoenix and Griffin

How is the mythical griffin related to a triceratops?  Learn about some real raptors and how they compare to mythical firebirds and lion creatures with wings and beaks!

March 31 – Unicorn and Pegasus

Can you master the control of magical horses?  They have some amazing powers, like the ability to fly and to heal the injured.  Learn about some real horses and other horned and hooved mammals, including one fantastic creature who truly has a single horn growing from its head!


2nd - 3rd Grade - Animal Inspirations

Many animals inspire us to write, paint, sing, or teach others about them.  Focus in on zoo animals that need our help, hear conservation success stories, and learn what you can do to give other animal tales a happy ending.

March 27 – Animal Connections and Chief Seattle

Use Chief Seattle’s inspirational tale about nature to get out into the Zoo and make connections to important animals in your life!  Think about how humans, plants, and animals all interact and get “caught up” in the “web of life”!

March 28 - Birds and James Audubon

Discover how a young boy fascinated with birds made amazing discoveries that are still being built upon today!  Why was James so excited by birds and how did he learn where birds went when it’s cold? Let your imagination take flight and study the science of soaring.

March 29 – Primates and Jane Goodall

This incredible woman created her own adventure and went to Africa to study chimpanzees!  Find out how her life’s work was inspired by a toy monkey, and why Jane Goodall is regarded as the foremost expert on chimps, today.  Go bananas as you discover some ape-mazing primate adaptations, and learn just how clever some monkeys can be.

March 30 – Aquatic Animals and Jacques Cousteau

Explore the undersea world while learning about an amazing scientist who made it his life’s work to understand what was underwater!  Learn why Cousteau was called the “Manfish,” and which devices he invented in order to make studying ocean life easier.  Check out some animals that love to swim and learn what you can do to save the sea.

March 31 – How We Can Help Animals featuring Denver Zoo staff

How can we do our part to help animals in zoos and around the world? Campers will “work” with a Denver Zoo animal keeper to problem solve and determine possible solutions to a real-world challenge that our keepers have faced while caring for one of our animals. Then, with a conservation educator, campers will expand the Zoo’s borders by “travelling” on a Denver Zoo project that helps animals in the wild. What better way to connect to the animals in and out of the zoo?



How is the approach to teaching in camps different this year?

Our top priorities are safety, education, and fun. While zoo exploration/tours and animal encounters/demos are still the core of our programs, the camps staff are taking a different look at how the campers learn, explore, and engage while at Denver Zoo. The instructors will be utilizing inquiry-based, camper-driven approaches to learning in Mini-Camps.

Why did Denver Zoo decide to move to an inquiry-based model for its Mini-Camps?

In the Denver Zoo Learning Experiernces Department, we place great value on designing and implementing programs that reflect best practices in teaching and learning. This means a reflective approach to assessing our existing programs as well, where we consistently seek opportunties to revise and move the bar that much higher. We are deeply influenced by research into inquiry, constructivist learning, and the power of learner-driven experiencces. We knew our campers loved attending our Mini-Camps, and we're confident they walked away with some real inspiration. But we saw Mini-Camps as a perfect opportunity to open up the learning even more to students -- to provide genuine experiences for children to let their curiousity drive their learning. A supportive camp setting can be an ideal space for genuine inquiry. And so we are super excited to see what our Mini-Camp's young learners come up with this season.

What are the benefits of this type of education?

We know from the research that student-driven learning is the most impactful for genuine learning, for long-term knowledge and skill retention and growth. When we utilize inquiry in our programmming, students have the opportunity to experience an authentic scientific process -- from observation and questioning to making predictions and constructing means to seek answers. This is real science, and much more powerful for students that memorizing a simplistic scientific method, the way old-fashioned classroms used to have them do.

Why does Denver Zoo focus on education instead of just animal welfare?

At Denver Zoo, our mission is to secure a better world for animals through human understanding. And so while we pride ourselves on our world-class animal care and husbandry, we also recognize the enormous task in impacting human understanding about animals, the environment and our relationship to both. Denver Zoo's education programs are a terrific opportunity for us to inform and inspire new generations of environmental stewards and scientifically literate citizens.

What does all of this mean?

Inquiry-based means the campers will be investigating, searching, and solving problems. They will seek answers or information and use their critical thinking skills to gather data, use their senses to make observations, problem-solve, engineer solutions, and build a deeper understanding. Student-driven means that while staff will still be facilitating the programs, the direction in which the learning goes really depends on the campers – they will be using their own interests and passion to drive their experiences. This allows campers to construct a better grasp a broader understanding of the zoo, animals, the environment, and their connections to the larger world.

So what would my child do in a Mini-Camp?

It will be different for each group, based on the specific challenge being explored, age of the group, interests of the campers, and more. Instead of instructors sharing facts or telling the campers information, the instructor will ask questions and guide campers to discover the answers. When out in the zoo, campers will make observations and gather information to help them solve their challenge and engage in scientific arguments from evidence. Campers will have more time to more fully examine and explore their challenge, the zoo, experience animals up-close, and synthesize their learning through nature play and engineering solutions.

How is this different than a Mini-Camp last year?

Campers will be learning through doing and have more of say in how and what they learn. A typical day would see campers use everything they do that day, from zoo exploration and animal experiences to design blocks and group time, to solve their daily challenge. If something is constructed and sent home, it will be something the camper felt he or she needed to build in order to solve their given challenge. If your camper brings something home, ask them to tell you about it!