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Friends of the Zoo members help the Henry Vilas Zoo thrive. To thank you, the zoo provides some special perks for members, to make the zoo even more fun!



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Join or Renew

Memberships start at just $25 per year. Become a member today and join us in support of our community's beautiful, free Zoo!

All Members Receive the Following Benefits:

Members receive information about many benefits and how to redeem them via email. To be sure we have your email, please call us at 608-258-9490 or email friendsofthezoo@vilaszoo.org.

Entrance to the Member Appreciation Event
The Zoo's exclusive Member Appreciation Night was on May 11th, 2017. Stay tuned for more info about the exclusive, fun night at the zoo just for members in 2018! In the meantime, we hope you will join us for a complimentary members-only preview of Zoo Lights this November.

Advance Notice and Discounts for Select Zoo Events in 2017
Members receive special discounts, members-only sales, and more for select zoo events.

Priority Registration and Discounts for Zoo Education Programs 
Member families are permitted to register for the extremely popular zoo education programs for the two weeks prior to open enrollment and also receive discounted admission (discounts usually range from $2-$50 depending on the program). Learn more about Zoo Education programs hereMembers receive information about this via email. To be sure we have your email, please call us at 608-258-9490 or email friendsofthezoo@vilaszoo.org.

ZooNews Newsletter
3-4 times per year, all members receive the latest inside information about what's happening at the Henry Vilas Zoo. Topics include conservation, events at the Zoo, fundraising, building projects, and of course, the animals!

Free or Reduced-Price Admission to other Zoos and Aquariums
All members of the Henry Vilas Zoo receive free or reduced-cost admission to many AZA accredited Zoos and Aquariums throughout the country. See a list of participating zoos. Please call ahead to whatever Zoo you would like to visit to verify their current reciprocity policies and present your current membership card to receive discounts. Note that the Milwaukee County Zoo does not offer free admission to Henry Vilas Zoo members.

10% Discount at Zoo Restaurant and Gift Shops
You asked and we answered! Enjoy a treat at our new Glacier Grille restaurant (the only restaurant in the U.S. that overlooks polar bears) or pick up a souvenir at one of our gift shops and received 10% off all-year round!

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Young Professionals Level ($40) members receive all the benefits above PLUS:

NEW! $5 Off One PACK Event Ticket
By joining as a member of the Zoo at the Young Professionals level, you become a member of Henry Vilas Zoo's young professionals group, called PACK. PACK has 2-3 events each year that are 21+ and super fun for young adults! Past events include "Be A Kid Again at the Zoo" and "Will Zoo Be Mine?" As a PACK member, you get $5 off one ticket!

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Family Level ($50) members receive all the benefits above (other than the $5 PACK event ticket) PLUS:

Free Rides on the Zoo Train and Conservation Carousel
Ride the Conservation Carousel (which features a variety of animals from around the world) and the delightful Zoo Train free of charge. Your membership level determines how many free rides you will receive, ranging from 6 free rides at the Family level to unlimited rides for your immediate family at the Protector, Ambassador, and Champion levels. Protector, Ambassador, and Champion members can redeem free rides by simply showing their membership card. For other levels, free ride punch cards will be mailed to you along with your membership cards.

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Sustaining Level ($100) members receive all the benefits above PLUS:

Early Entrance to Halloween at the Zoo
Be at the front of the line to get your free Halloween treats! Members at the Sustaining level ($100) and above will be allowed early access to Halloween at the Zoo for themselves and their immediate families. Members at the Steward Level and above will also be allowed to enter early with two guests. Members will be allowed in before the general public and will receive directions on where to go prior to the event via email. Members must present their membership card for early access. To be sure we have your email, please call us at 608-258-9490 or email friendsofthezoo@vilaszoo.org.

Friend of the Henry Vilas Zoo T-Shirt
Show your love of animals and your support of the Henry Vilas Zoo by wearing your Henry Vilas Zoo member t-shirt! Members at the Sustaining level ($100) and above will receive a complimentary soft cotton shirt! Please bring your t-shirt coupon (mailed to you along with your other membership materials) and membership card to the zoo Gift Shop in order get your free membership t-shirt. The Gift shop is open from 9:30am to 4:30pm during the winter and 9:30 to 5:00 during the summer.

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Steward Level ($250) Members Receive the Benefits Above PLUS the Following:

NEW! Invitation to Quarterly Education Animal Chat
Get to know the zoo's Education animals! Members will be invited to complimentary presentations featuring live animals and a variety of age-appropriate content. Topics could include animal classification, adaptations, predator-prey relationship, natural history, behavior, and more. Members will receive invitations to quarterly chats via email.

Art Piece by Zoo Animal (with Photo)
A few of the animals at the Henry Vilas Zoo have begun to dabble in the fine arts! Members at the Steward level ($250) and above can be the proud owner of a small painting actually painted by an animal you can visit here at the Zoo. You will also receive a photo of the animal along with the painting. Your art piece will be mailed to you along with your membership materials.

NEW! One Free Registration for Zoo Run Run
Members at the Steward level ($250) or above who participate in the Zoo Run Run, one of the Zoo's most popular events, can now receive one free registration per membership. The Zoo Run Run is a fun, chip-timed run for all ages, featuring prizes, a costume contest, and free food and drinks for runners. 50% discount must be redeemed by contacting friendsofthezoo@vilaszoo.org for online discount code, or through the mail during pre-registration. One free registration per membership.

Complimentary Walking Tour of the Zoo
Think you know the Henry Vilas Zoo? Think again! Members at the Steward level and above are invited to attend group insider tours at the zoo for free. Taking a walking tour around the Henry Vilas Zoo with a zoo guide is a truly special experience -  whether you just joined or are a lifelong friend of the zoo, we guarantee you’ll learn something new.
•    Stroll through the zoo with your guide in an intimate group
•    Learn little-known facts about the Zoo’s history and animals
•    Ask your guide all the questions you never knew who to ask
•    Hear firsthand how Henry Vilas Zoo is working to save species

Join us for a special tour of the zoo you won’t soon forget. Information will be sent to members in summer 2017.

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Protector Level ($500) Members Receive the Benefits Above PLUS the Following:

Exclusive "Drive the Zoo Train!" for Members and up to 10 guests
This is your chance to become the Zoo Train Conductor and take your friends and family for an exclusive ride through the Children's Zoo at the Henry Vilas Zoo! After a quick lesson, adults in your group can each take a turn driving your group through the Children's Zoo. Members at the Protector level ($500) and above, along with their group of up to 10 guests will have the train all to themselves for an hour and have unlimited carousel rides until 11am. Drive the Zoo Train can be scheduled from May to October on select mornings at 8:45am. Contact the Friends of the Zoo office at 608-258-9490 to schedule your Drive the Zoo Train experience.

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Ambassador Level ($1,000) Members Receive the Benefits Above PLUS the Following:

Up-Close Zoo Animal Encounter
Enjoy the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to meet a zoo animal up close. Whether it's seeing behind the scenes at the rhino exhibit, feeding the giraffe, or watching a penguin do some painting, you will have the chance to experience the Henry Vilas Zoo in a whole new way and learn about the animal from an experienced and knowledgeable Zoo staff member. This exclusive experience is available to all members at the Ambassador level ($1,000) or above.  Animal Encounters are planned with the animal's well being in mind, so the animal for each encounter will be determined by Zoo staff and is subject to change. Due to the need for keeping Animal Encounter groups small, this benefit is only for members and their immediate family. You will receive an invitation to each group Zoo Animal Encounter during your membership year until you redeem (3-4 Animal Encounters will be available per year to choose from). 

Invitation to Bi-annual Director's Circle Breakfasts 
Enjoy breakfast at the zoo with zoo leadership! These breakfasts are a relaxed opportunity to get an update from zoo leadership (Zoo Director Ronda Schwetz and Friends of the Zoo Executive Director Alison Prange) on the exciting things the zoo has in store for this year, and also share coffee and pastries with other dedicated supporters of the zoo. Breakfasts happen twice per year and Invitations will be sent to Ambassador Level members one month in advance of each breakfast.

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Champion Level ($2,500) Members Receive the Benefits Above PLUS the Following:

TWO Up-Close Zoo Animal Encounters
Enjoy not just one, but TWO exclusive opportunities to meet a zoo animal up close. Animal Encounters are planned with the animal's well being in mind, so the animal for each encounter will be determined by Zoo staff and is subject to change. Due to the need for keeping Animal Encounter groups small, this benefit is only for members and their immediate family. You will receive an invitation to each group Zoo Animal Encounter during your membership year until you redeem two encounters (3-4 Animal Encounters will be available per year to choose from). 

NEW! Reserved Parking Spot
Your parking worries are over! As we all know, parking can be limited at the Zoo especially on busy weekend days.  So we are excited to now be able to reserve a parking space in advance for our Champion Level members when they visit. Please call 608-258-9490 or email friendsofthezoo@vilaszoo.org at least 2 days before your visit in order to reserve.

NEW! Complimentary Ticket to Rendez-Zoo Gala
Rendez-Zoo is a zoo-chic gala which takes place in the late spring or early summer each year. Tickets in the past have been around $100, so this benefit represents a significant savings that we are more than happy to extend to our Champion level supporters. Please call 608-258-9490 or email friendsofthezoo@vilaszoo.org to request your complimentary general admission ticket.

Invitation to Annual After-Hours Reception at the Zoo
Join zoo leadership after the zoo closes for a wine and cheese reception in our new Glacier Grille. Get an exclusive update from Zoo Director Ronda Schwetz and Friends of the Zoo Executive Director Alison Prange on new and exciting things happening at the Henry Vilas Zoo and meet fellow zoo supporters! Invitations will be sent out to Champion Level members at least one month in advance of the event.