Open every day of the year
Summer Hours (Mar 1 - Oct 31)
Admissions Open 9am to 5pm
Grounds close at 6pm
Ages 12-64: $17
Ages 65+: $14
Ages 3-11: $12
2 and Under: Free
2017 Free Days:
11/3, 11/6, 11/16
If you’ve ever dreamed of getting nose to beak with a penguin, smelling the fish on a sea lion’s breath or getting the insider's scoop on elephants, then Up-Close Animal Encounters at Denver Zoo are for you.
Up-Close Animal Encounters provides guests with a one of a kind experience by combining exclusive animal encounters, intimate keeper interactions and guided tours.
For lovers of reptiles, frogs and fish! Take a one of a kind look into Tropical Discovery, home to all things slithery, slimy and scaly. You'll be transported into an exotic rainforest habitat that is home to more than 300 species and visit two different behind the scenes areas; outside the Komodo dragon exhibit for a face to face visit with one of the large lizards, and a second area that is the keeper's choice! It may be a bird's eye look into our 16,000 Pacific Reef habitat or meeting a frog thought to be extinct in the wild just to name a few. Each experience is different, so an adventurous attitude is recommended!
Begin your encounter with a walking history of Denver Zoo as you make your way to Primate Panorama. Then, discover the wild world of great apes firsthand from the keepers that care for these intelligent and charismatic animals. You'll have a rooftop view of the Zoo's resident orangutans that few get to experience, or perhaps participate in a training session with a gorilla behind the scenes. You’ll be amazed by the secrets of their fascinating behavior as you watch the orangutans or gorillas receive their afternoon snack. Please note that your experience will be with a gorilla or an orangutan, and the selected animal will be a surprise when you arrive for your encounter!
Please note that because of safety regulations, guests will not receive direct contact with the apes but rather will get a closer look than public perspective allows with exclusive behind-the-scenes access and interactions. Additionally, the experience will include a meet and greet with either the orangutans or gorillas, and the species chosen can vary with each experience. We cannot guarantee which species will be included as part of the meet and greet.
Get to know more about Denver Zoo’s beloved elephants while discovering a different side of Denver Zoo’s newest exhibit Toyota Elephant Passage. Participate in an elephant training session after their daily demonstration, and then go behind the scenes and gain some insider knowledge from the animal keepers who care for these unique, charismatic creatures every day. Please note that because of safety regulations, guests will not receive direct contact with the elephants, but rather will get a closer look than public perspective allows with exclusive behind-the-scenes access and interactions.
Are you passionate about penguins? Start your encounter with a guided tour through Bird World and get a behind-the-scenes peek at how Denver Zoo cares for hundreds of birds. Spend some time in the kitchen as animal care staff prepare diets and help feed a variety of the Zoo’s fine feathered friends. For the grand finale waddle your way into the world of penguins to interact with one of these loveable creatures and hear from one of our animal care experts about what it takes to care for these unique birds.
Are you looking for a more exclusive and in-depth look at Denver Zoo? If so, the Backstage Experience Junior is for you!
Your private tour guide will escort you through our Animal Ambassador collection where you might touch a turtle, spend time with snakes, laugh with a kookaburra or be tickled by a tamandua’s tongue! Lots of up-close encounters wrap up with a fun feeding or training demonstration. Then it’s off to meet the stars of the Wildlife Show, where you’ll go behind the scenes to see how we care for these charismatic animals. Prepare to be dazzled by the talents of the exotic parrots, majestic birds of prey, and mammals both prickly and cuddly. When the entertainment wraps up there, you are free to enjoy the zoo at your leisure.
Bring your enthusiasm for animals and your interest in learning about zoo keeping with you for this unique animal experience! Participants will meet a zookeeper from our education animal division and begin the day with behind the scenes tours. After the tour, participants will learn all about what it takes to care for and train these very amazing animals by participating in two or more of the following activities:
Ever wondered what it feels like to touch two tons worth of muscle? Experience this and more as you get up close and personal with one of our rhinos. In this adventure, your host will guide you to our rhino exhibit, to meet with a keeper and learn what it takes to care for these thick skinned creatures. You’ll also have a chance to touch and scratch this gentle giant while it enjoys his mid-morning snack. They might look tough as a tank, however their calm and sweet nature will win you over.
Rhino Encounters will be back in the fall of 2017. Please check back then, or fill out this form and we'll send you a reminder when it becomes available.
We are now offering a new Up-Close Animal Encounter! Be among the first to experience this 30-minute long Ambassador Animal Encounter, where you’ll get face-to-face with some of the animal ambassadors that you might already know and love from the Wildlife Show, like a tamandua, parrot or porcupine. The Ambassador Animal Encounter is an interactive and hands-on tour that’s great for all-ages! This new year-round program is currently being offered on Thursday in January through April and takes place at the Wildlife Theatre. Click here for more information and to register.
The Animal Ambassadors are getting ready for their big summer season! Visit them at the Wildlife Show this summer and please check back in January 2018 to sign up for a chance to get up-close and personal with these critters.
Things are about to get fishy! Have an up-close encounter with Denver Zoo’s fun flippered friends, the sea lions. During up-close encounters with sea lions and intimate conversations with animal care staff, watch as their personalities overshadow their fishy breath and find a way in to your heart.
The sea lions are on vacation for the summer. Please check back, or fill out this form and we'll send you a reminder when this up-close encounter becomes available.
Meet long time Denver Zoo resident Mahali the hippo during this up-close and personal experience. Participants will have exclusive access to the outdoor hippo habitat in our new encounter space, opportunities to learn from his keepers how they care for him, and help toss food to Mahali! Do you have what it takes to hit a four foot target from just a few feet away? Start practicing your aim! Please note that because of safety regulations, guests will not receive direct contact with the hippo, but rather will get a closer look than public perspective allows with exclusive access and interactions.
Hippo Meet and Greets will be back in late summer 2017. Please check back then, or fill out this form and we'll send you a reminder when it becomes available.
Step into Lorikeet Adventure and you’ll be greeted by the cheerful chirps of Denver Zoo’s most vibrant residents. Lorikeet Adventure is home to a variety of lorikeets, small, brightly-colored parrots from Australia and the South Pacific. Stroll through the open aviary as lorikeets fly overhead and learn more about these acrobats of the tropics from zookeepers and volunteers. Looking to get even closer? Visitors can opt to pay and hand feed the birds from a cup of nectar as they perch right on your arm. This unforgettable experience is great for visitors of all ages.
Exhibit currently only open on weekends: 10 a.m. - 4 p.m.
Nectar Sales: 10 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.
Nectar Cup Price: $2
Lorikeet Adventure is open year round, weather permitting, and entrance is included with your Zoo admission.
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