Celebrating the Wonders of our Natural World...

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Behind The Scenes Tours

Close Encounters Program

Have you ever wanted to see a behind the scenes bear or chimp training session? How about holding an owl or a snake? Join our keepers for one of these unique experiences. You’ll get the chance to see animals up-close behind-the-scenes or even learn how to properly handle some of the program animals at the zoo.

Chimpanzees of Mokomboso Valley

It takes a special level of care to manage a troop of chimpanzees. Get an up-close look behind-the-scenes, see their overnight quarters and watch a training session with one of the chimps. One of our keepers will demonstrate how this training is important for maintaining their health on a daily basis. Offered Monday through Thursday at 11:00 am.

Bear Necessities

See what it takes to care for the bears at John Ball Zoo and watch a training session to see how keepers use training to take better care of the bears. Offered seasonally Monday through Thursday at 11:00 am, 1:00 or 3:30 pm.

Animal Handling 101

Work with one of our keepers to see where our program animals live and get the opportunity to learn how to properly handle up to 3 of them. Program offered Monday through Friday between 9:00 am and 3:30 pm

Program Details

Minimum Age: 8 years of age. Children 12 and under must be accompanied by a paying adult.
Maximum # People per Program: 6 people for all programs except the animal handling, which is 4 people maximum. One adult cannot be responsible for more than one child 12 and under.
Program Time: 40-60 minutes
Pricing and Registration: $55 per person. $220 minimum. Admission to the zoo is included. Advance registration of at least 2 weeks is required.
To register, complete a program request form and someone from the zoo will contact you to schedule your program and discuss it in more detail. Deposit of $50 required to confirm registration. Deposit is nonrefundable if cancellation made within the 7 days prior to the program date. You will be asked to complete additional paperwork prior to your participation. The remaining payment balance is due upon arrival.
Cancellation Policy: Program may be cancelled by zoo. Certain weather or other extenuating circumstances could cause zoo staff to cancel the program. If cancellation is possible, you will be contacted via the phone numbers listed on your program request form. If cancellation by the zoo occurs, an alternate date for rescheduling will be discussed or the entire deposit will be refunded.
Other requirements: Footwear that fully encloses the foot is required – no sandals, flip-flops or similar footwear. Photos are not allowed behind the scenes; however, zoo staff will include time to take a picture of your group during the tour with tour member’s camera. This program is not recommended for individuals with allergies to hay, animal fur and/or other related allergens.
Minimum Age: 8 years of age. Children 12 and under must be accompanied by an adult.

Program Request Form and instructions