Santa Barbara Zoo’s camps offer children ages 3–12 the opportunity to explore animals and science in a safe, beautiful environment. Zoo Camps are offered seasonally, and all camps have a lunch option available.
Kid’s Summer Camp
Traditional Zoo Camp. Includes hands-on science activities, games, crafts, snack and lunch time, up-close animal encounter (feeding opportunity or animal enrichment experience) and a guided Zoo tour.
Spring: March 26–30
Fall: November 19–23 (no camp November 22)
Winter: December 24–28 (no camp December 25) and
December 31–January 4 (no camp January 1)
Half Day: 9 a.m.–noon
Full Day: 9 a.m.–3 p.m.
Summer Zoo Camps
Choose from Traditional Camp or try one of our Specialty Camps, which cater to your child’s specific interests. All Specialty Camps are full-day camps, and are offered for specific weeks of summer. These camps have limited availability, so register today!
Traditional Zoo Camp includes hands-on science activities, games, crafts, snack and lunch time, up-close animal encounter (feeding opportunity or animal enrichment experience) and a guided Zoo tour. Traditional camp is offered in half-day and full-day options.
NEW! Specialty Camp: Aussie Adventure
Meet the Zoo’s Australian animals, like the kookaburra, and more! Learn about the diversity of animals and their habitats in the land down under.
Specialty Camp: Backyard Biologist
Practice the skills of a professional field biologist, training alongside our conservation team and learning sustainable stewardship practices. This camp has a unique overnight schedule for Thursday–Friday.
Specialty Camp: Future Science Leaders
At this hands-on field biology camp, campers learn how to identify local species of birds, marine and terrestrial invertebrates, and local plant species through on-site exploration and day trips to Sedgwick and Coal Oil Point Reserves.
Specialty Camp: Jr. Veterinarian
A week in the life of an exotic animal veterinarian. Go behind the scenes at the Zoo’s animal hospital, and practice the skills every vet needs.
Specialty Camp: Jr. Zookeeper
You’re a zookeeper for a week and will assist the staff in caring for some of the Zoo’s exotic animals.
Specialty Camp: Pet Ready
From the feathered and furry to the scaly and slimy, you’ll learn how to care for pets of all types and create a terrarium habitat.
Zoo Camp Add-ons
Zoo Camp lunch, prepared by the Zoo’s restaurant, is available for purchase with your Zoo Camp registration. Your child can choose from pizza, sliders, and other options.
Hot lunch is available for $50/week.
Morning: 7:30–9 a.m., $75/week
Afternoon: 3:30–4:30 p.m., $75/week
Backyard Biologist Schedule (M,T & F) Extended Day
Morning: 7:30–9 a.m., $45/week
Afternoon: 3:30–4:30 p.m., $45/week
First-Time Camper Tips
Campers should wear a Santa Barbara Zoo Camp shirt every day and dress appropriately for the weather. Please make sure younger campers’ clothing is easy for them to remove while using the restroom (Zoo staff cannot assist campers in the restroom). Please check lost & found for clothing lost during Zoo Camp.
Closed-toed shoes are required for your child’s safety. If your camper is not wearing close-toed shoes, they will miss out on behind-the-scenes opportunities.
Snacks are provided daily. If your child has a food allergy, please pack a snack for them and give it to their counselor in the morning.
Zoo Campers are outside for the majority of the day and should wear sunscreen. If you would like us to apply sunscreen, you must give us consent in the morning and send sunscreen with your child.
Send your camper with a full, reusable water bottle. Routine stops at water fountains are made, but it does get hot during the summer and your child will be outside most of the day.
Zoo Camp Frequently Asked Questions
What will my child do all day at Zoo Camp?
Your child will be introduced to the world of animals and science through age-appropriate themed programs including games, up-close animal encounters, hands-on science, and more.
What is the counselor to camper ratio?
The counselor to camper ratio varies with age and registration. Our average group size is around eight campers to one counselor. Pre-school groups are generally smallest and the oldest camp groups are generally largest. The staff: child ratio is typically around 1:10 for our camp groups. Each group also has teenage volunteers who help to supervise campers.
Is there a nap time?
We do not have a designated nap time. For the younger campers, we do have quieter activities where campers can rest. There is also a designated quiet time for younger campers at the beginning of extended day.
Do you provide a snack?
We provide a snack daily. If your child has a food allergy, we suggest you pack a snack for your camper and give it to his or her counselor in the morning.
What is your cancellation policy?
All cancellations must be made in writing, clearly stating your request to cancel a specified week. Cancellations received 15 or more full days before the reserved Camp date will receive a 90% refund. Cancellations received 7-14 full days before the reserved Camp date will receive a 50% refund. Cancellations received less than 7 full days before the reserved Camp date are not eligible for a refund. There are no exceptions to this cancellation policy. Please call (805) 962-5339 x154 if you do not receive a confirmation of your cancellation within 7 days.
How do I know what camp my child should be in?
Please sign your child up according to their age during camp. For the benefit of your child and the other campers, children will only be allowed in groups appropriate for their age.
Do you have a multiple child discount?
We do not offer a multiple child discount. We do offer a discount for Santa Barbara Zoo members.
Can you hold a spot for my camper?
We cannot hold a spot for your camper. The best way to guarantee a spot is to register online.
Do you have scholarships available for Summer Zoo Camp?
The Santa Barbara Zoo works with the Santa Barbara Police Activities League (PAL) to provide scholarships to low income families. Visit the PAL website for more information!
Do you have scholarships available for Fall, Winter, or Spring Zoo Camp?
At this time, we do not have a scholarship program for Fall, Winter, or Spring Zoo Camp.
Do I get a refund if my child is sick?
No. We do not give refunds for children that are unable to attend camp because they are sick.
Do I get a refund if my child is asked to leave camp because of behavioral issues?
No. If your child is asked to leave camp because they are unable to cooperate with camp rules, you will not receive a refund.
Where do I sign my camper in and out for Summer Zoo Camp?
Standard Day Summer Zoo Camp sign-in and sign-out occurs in the Zoo parking lot, to your right as you approach the entrance. Sign-in for all campers begins at 9:00 a.m. Sign-out is at 12:00 for half-day campers and 3:00 p.m. for full-day campers.
Where do I sign my camper in and out for Spring and Winter Zoo Camp?
Winter/Spring Zoo Camp sign-in is in the Zoo parking lot, to the right of the front gate. Winter/Spring Zoo Camp sign out is at the large electric gate to the left of the main entrance to the Zoo. Sign-in for all campers begins at 9:00 a.m. Sign-out is at 12:00 for half-day campers and 3:00 p.m. for full-day campers.
Where do I go if I arrive late to camp in the morning?
If you arrive after our designated check-in time, please check in at the front gate. They will send you to the Education Offices to sign your camper in. Please note that this process will take longer than regular sign-in. We appreciate your cooperation.
What happens if I need to pick my child up early?
If you would like to pick up your child at a time other than the designated pick-up time, please go to the front gate. They will direct you to our Education Offices. Once you sign your child out in the office, your child will be brought to meet you there. Please note, this process does take more time. If you would like to take your child before Standard Day sign-out, please arrive prior to 2:15 p.m. We appreciate your patience and cooperation.
What happens if I’m late picking up my child from Summer Zoo Camp?
At 3:30 p.m., all campers who have not been signed out will be sent to Extended Day. A fee of $15 for every 15 minutes will be charged for late pick-ups. When you arrive, you will be directed to the Education Offices to sign out your camper.
What happens if I’m late picking up my child from Winter Zoo Camp, Spring Zoo Camp, or Extended Day?
After pick-up, any remaining campers will wait with camp staff at the front of the Zoo. A fee of $15 for every 15 minutes will be charged for late pick-ups.
Can teenagers under 18 sign out campers?
No. Anyone signing out a child must be 18 and over and be authorized by the parent/guardian. They MUST show a photo I.D., no exceptions.
At sign-in, it looked like my child was in a large group. Do they stay in that large group?
No. To facilitate the sign in process, we frequently put several groups together during sign-in and sign-out. These groups will be divided into smaller groups at the beginning of the camp day. Feel free to talk to your counselor about the size of your child’s particular group.
My child really wants to be in the same group as their friend. How can I make sure this happens?
At sign-in, let your counselor know who you would like your child to be grouped with. They will do their best to make sure that those campers are in the same group. Grouping requests cannot be guaranteed, or made in advance. Campers can not be grouped with children in different age groups.
Does my child have to wear a Zoo Camp shirt everyday?
Yes, we need all campers to wear their Zoo Camp shirts on a daily basis. This helps us recognize the campers and is for their own safety during camp. The Zoo Camp shirt does not change from year to year, so if you have Zoo Camp shirts from previous years, your child is welcome to wear those to camp.
Can I stay with my child during the day? May I eat lunch with my child?
For the safety of campers, we do not allow adults who are not camp staff to spend time with the camp group. This includes parents. If you would like to eat lunch with your child, you must sign them out, eat lunch outside of the Zoo Camp lunch area, and then sign them back in for the rest of the afternoon.
What does the Zoo consider potty-trained?
According to the Zoo, if your child is potty-trained they will need no assistance at all in the restroom. We understand that accidents happen, but all campers must be potty-trained to attend camp. We cannot change diapers or clothes for your child.
What happens if my child has a potty accident? Can you change their clothes?
If your child has a potty accident, they will be brought to our Education Office. We will notify you of the accident and ask that you come with a change of clothes and change your camper. We can not assist with the changing of clothes.
Can you apply sunscreen for my child?
We suggest you apply sunscreen for your child before coming to camp. If you would like us to apply sunscreen, you must give us consent on Monday morning and send sunscreen with your child. The Zoo does not supply sunscreen for campers.
My child has food allergies, what should I be aware of?
If your child has a food allergy, we highly suggest you do not order Zoo lunch. Please pack a lunch for your child. We also suggest that you pack a snack for your child and give it to the counselor in the morning. Also make sure that you list their food allergy under the medical alerts section of your registration.
What if I forget to pack a lunch for my child?
If your child does not have a lunch, you have two options. You can drop off lunch at the front gate of the Zoo by 11:00 a.m. with your child’s name and age. If you would like the Zoo to provide lunch, you will be charged $10 for a one-day camp lunch.
Where is your lost and found?
All lost and found items for camp will be in the Administration Office located in the front courtyard of the Zoo, next to the Gift Store. You should also check with your child’s counselor at sign out to see if the item was accidentally left in their lunch bin.
Will my child be photographed during camp?
Maybe. By registering your child for Zoo Camp, you authorize the Santa Barbara Zoo to use your camper’s name and photograph for education and public relation purposes. You may request to not have these photographs used.
What if my child doesn’t like camp?
Most campers love Zoo Camp and beg to come back again! On the very rare occasion that your camper does not have a good time, we are happy to try to put them in different groups with different counselors if possible, and to work with their counselor to try and make their experience more enjoyable.