Animal Encounters

Are you curious about what it’s like to feed a penguin or get eye-to-eye with giraffes? Check out the Santa Barbara Zoo’s animal encounters, where you’ll meet and greet the animals for a 30-minute educational experience and Q & A session. Parking and admission to the Zoo are included in encounter prices.

If you can’t make it to the Zoo in person, we offer virtual animal encounters that can be enjoyed from anywhere with an internet connection! Virtual encounters take place on Zoom. Fill out the form below to sign up for a virtual encounter.

Are you a Santa Barbara Zoo Member at the Keeper’s Circle level (or above) or VIP Foster Feeder (or above)? Contact the advancement department to schedule your complimentary animal encounter. Due to safety restrictions, there is limited availability on dates, group size, and animal options.

SAFETY MEASURES

  • All guests 3 years and older must properly wear a face mask during the entire animal experience for the safety of our other guests, staff, and animals.
  • All guests must disinfect their hands and let them dry prior to feeding animals.
  • Zoo staff will wear appropriate personal protective equipment (face masks, gloves, etc.) for each encounter.
Masai Giraffe Encounter
Step onto the giraffe deck where you’ll learn all about the care and training the Zoo’s Masai giraffe herd receives. Also offered as a virtual encounter.
Max Guests: 6
Ages: All ages
Cost: $350 (includes Zoo admission)
Duration: 30 minutes
Availability: Offered Mondays at 12:30 PM
Humboldt Penguin Fish Toss
Join a penguin keeper to learn about the Zoo’s active Humboldt penguin colony, and toss the penguins a tasty fishy snack.
Max Guests: 6
Ages: All ages
Cost: $400 (includes Zoo admission)
Duration: 30 minutes
Availability: Offered Mondays at 1:30 PM and Saturdays at 1:30 PM
Amur Leopard Training Wall Demonstration
Experience the thrill of being up close to these beautiful cats and learn all about Amur leopards as you watch their keeper train them.
Max Guests: 6
Ages: 6+
Cost: $500 (includes Zoo admission)
Duration: 30 minutes
Availability: Offered Sundays at 2 PM
African Spurred Tortoise Feeding Opportunity
Experience these giants up close and learn about the care and training of the world’s third-largest tortoise species. Also offered as a virtual encounter.
Max Guests: 6
Ages: 5+
Cost: $350 (includes Zoo admission)
Duration: 30 minutes
Availability: Offered Wednesdays at 2 PM
African Lion, Training Wall
Learn all about lion training and care from the keeper as you watch a lion training session take place just a short distance from you.
Max Guests: 6
Ages: 6+
Cost: $500 (includes Zoo admission)
Duration: 30 minutes
Availability: Offered Wednesdays at 10:30 AM
Capybara Encounter
Are you ready to meet the world’s largest rodents? Go behind the scenes and learn all about these fuzzy South American mammals.
Max Guests: 4
Ages: 6+
Cost: $400 (includes Zoo admission)
Duration: 30 minutes
Availability: Offered Sundays at 10:30 AM
Armadillo Encounter
Learn all about the armadillo, the only living mammal with a shell!
Max Guests: 4
Ages: All ages
Cost: $400 (includes Zoo admission)
Duration: 30 minutes
Availability: Offered Fridays at 3:30 PM
Barnyard
Get up close with the Zoo’s barnyard animals and learn how zookeepers care for and train them. Includes Guinea hogs, Najavo-Churro sheep, San Clemente Island goats, and rabbits.
Max Guests: 6
Ages: All ages
Cost: $350 (includes Zoo admission)
Duration: 30 minutes
Availability: Offered Mondays at 11 AM
Eeeww! Animal Encounter
Have an up-close experience with slithery, slimy, and crawly reptiles, amphibians, and invertebrates.  Also offered as a virtual encounter.
Max Guests: 6
Ages: All ages
Cost: $350 (includes Zoo admission)
Duration: 30 minutes
Availability: Offered Fridays at 1 PM
Walking Tour
This experience covers the Zoo’s history and details about the animals who call the Zoo home.  With a focus on conservation and animal care, your guide will lead you through the Zoo and spend time at specific exhibits per your group’s request.
Max Guests: 6
Ages: All ages
Cost: $200 (includes Zoo admission)
Duration: 60 minutes
Availability: Offered Thursdays at 1 PM
Animal Encounter Gift Certificates
Give the gift of an in-person animal encounter to your friends or family! Available in $250, $350, $400, or $500 amounts. Purchase a gift certificate to cover part of an encounter or the whole thing!
Max Guests:
Ages: All ages
Cost: $250-$500
Duration:
Availability:

If you can’t make it to the Zoo in person, we offer virtual animal encounters that can be enjoyed from anywhere with an internet connection! Virtual encounters take place on Zoom.

Virtual Encounter Inquiry Form

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