Zoo Birthday Parties
Designed for children turning ages 5-12, a Zoo Birthday Party is a great way to make your child's special day extra special.
Your 2023 Zoo Birthday Party Reservation Includes:
- A two-hour room reservation in the DeFouw Education Center
- Up to 25 total persons may attend (including all children and adults)
- Hands-on live animal presentation with up to 3 Animal Ambassadors
- Photo keepsake of each child with an Animal Ambassadors (made available by digital download)
- Approximately an hour of free time for your choice of activities
- A Zoo staff host to facilitate and assist
- Zoo staff handles all clean-up
Party Time Slots:
- Saturdays 10:00am-noon or 2:00-4:00pm
- Sundays 2:00-4:00pm
Zoo Birthday Party Fee Info
|2023 Party Info:||Applies to Party Dates:||Fee:|
|WINTER/SPRING SEASON||January 3, 2023 - April 14, 2023||$225 Non-Members
|PEAK SEASON||April 15, 2023 - October 7, 2023||$275 Non-Members
|WINTER SEASON||October 8, 2023 - December 31, 2023||
Zoo Members receive a $20 discount on all birthday party reservations! Please note: we are unable to refund the discount back for Memberships purchased after your reservation has been made, so if you are joining as a new Member you should complete that purchase before making your reservation. For more information about becoming a Zoo Member, visit our Membership Information Page here.
What to Expect:
The first approximately 60 minutes of the party is facilitated by your Zoo staff party attendant. This includes the animal presentation** and photo. Then we’ll turn the party over to you! The remaining approximately 60 minutes is your free time to plan and facilitate. You may use this time for opening presents, playing additional party games or visiting zoo exhibits***.
The host family will have access to the party room 30 minutes ahead of your scheduled start time to set-up or decorate, if you choose. An additional 30 minutes of set-up time can be elected at the time of reservation for a $25 Early Access Fee. After your party ends, you'll have an additional 30 minutes to wrap up and gather your belongings. Zoo staff will take care of the clean-up!
Please read the Zoo Birthday Party Program Agreement and Guidelines for additional important information about how parties work, including important policy information and our full Decoration and Refreshments rules.
To reserve your party date or for more information, please contact the Columbian Park Zoo Education Department at (765) 807-1540 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Reservation requests can be made online, but should be considered "pending" until you have received a confirmation of approval from Zoo staff. Payment in full is required at least 30 days prior to your reservation in order to secure your party date. Sorry, due to the number of requests we are unable to offer courtesy holds.
Parties are available most weekends, either morning or afternoon. Standard time slots are 10:00am - 12:00pm or 2:00pm - 4:00pm. Reservations should be made 4-6 weeks in advance for fall and winter dates. For spring and summer parties, please make your reservations 8-12 weeks in advance to ensure the best selection of available dates.
Please see the Zoo Birthday Party Program Agreement and Guidelines for detailed information about party logistics and additional public health precautions before making your reservation. Please note: the fluid nature of the COVID-19 pandemic requires us to adjust our health and safety parameters as new guidance from the CDC, ISDH, and TCHD becomes available. Although we will do our best to keep website information up to date, some changes may not be announced in advance of when they take effect. Please contact the Zoo Education Department or inquire with your Zoo staff party host if you have any questions regarding current parameters.
*Parties are designed for children turning 5-12. Guests must be at least 3 years of age to attend. Note that little siblings of the birthday child under the age of 3 are permitted to attend, but may not be able to fully participate in all activities.
**The sample list of party-eligible animals is for illustration purposes and is only an example of the types of animal you may meet. The exact animals that appear at your party depends on multiple factors, including the animal's choice of whether or not to participate. Sorry, we are unable to tell you in advance which animals will appear or guarantee special requests.
***During normal zoo open season and operating hours, birthday party reservations include admission vouchers for up to 25 persons and party groups may visit zoo exhibits during the free time portion of the party. Those with admission vouchers may choose to visit the Zoo on their own after the party or redeem them for a future visit. During the winter months (from mid-October through mid-April) when the Zoo is not open to the public, your Zoo party staff can facilitate a guided visit to the Family Farm during the free-time portion of the party upon request, and weather-permitting, but no admission vouchers are included in your reservation.
Don't See Something That Works For You?
It's ok! We've aimed to create a party option that will have broad appeal and provide a safe, high-quality experience for both guests and the animals in our care. But we understand that program parameters, such as age minimums and room capacity limitations, may not align with your family's preferences. If a Zoo Party doesn't meet your needs or budget right now, we invite you to consider one of these alternate ideas:
- Schedule a private Wild Encounters program or purchase a Wild Encounters gift voucher (age minimums vary by experience, 5+).
- Register your child for one of our weekend youth classes - Critter Classes (ages 6-7) or Wildlife Workshops (ages 8-11)
- Sponsor a Zoo-to-You or Animal Tales visit to your child's school classroom
- Consider a Zoo EDBucks gift certificate which can be redeemed for a variety of education programs or special experiences later. See the Gifts for Zoo Lovers Tab on our registration portal for options.
Contact the Zoo Education Department at email@example.com for more info about these options.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What kinds of animal will we see?
A: Examples of the kinds of animal that may appear are:
|Sugar glider||Lizard||Giant millipede|
Note: these are just examples. The exact animals you meet may vary. Sorry, we cannot tell you in advance which animals you will meet, or guarantee a specific animal will appear.
Q: What times are parties available?
A: Parties are available year-round! Generally we schedule parties for Saturdays 10am-noon or 2:00-4:00pm, and Sundays 2:00-4:00pm. Weekend time slots can not be adjusted. We can occasionally accommodate an afterschool party during the week, contact the Zoo Education Department for more info if you are interested in that option.
Q: Can I bring cake or other refreshments?
A: Yes! You are welcome to bring any refreshments you like (note the Zoo is an alcohol, tobacco, and drug-free zone). See the Zoo Birthday Party Program Agreement and Guidelines for our full Refreshment and Decoration Policy.
Q: When is payment due?
A: Payment in full is due at least 30 days prior to your party date. You can pay online, by phone, or in person at the Zoo administrative office.
Q: Is Zoo admission included?
A: For parties that take place during the Zoo's open season and operating hours, admission for up to 25 persons is included with your reservation fee. Guests must check in with the party staff host to receive their admission For parties during our closed season, no admission is included and zoo exhibits will not be available.
Q: Can I add on a train ride?
A: You are welcome to ride the train with your party group if it is operating when your party takes place. Although we don't currently have an upgrade option for birthday party reservations, you can purchase train tickets in the Zoo Gift Shop prior to the start of your party and ride during the free time portion or afterwards. We recommend inquiring at the Gift Shop about train availability before making your ticket purchase. Please note that rides tickets are not refundable, so we do not recommend purchasing them in advance of your party date.
Q: How far in advance do I need to secure my date?
We recommend booking your date at least 6 weeks in advance for fall and winter dates, and 8-12+ weeks in advance for spring and summer. Sorry, we are unable to reserve dates more than 180 days in advance.
Q: Can I book a Zoo Birthday Party at my home?
A: Sorry, we are unable to bring animals to personal residences.