Do you have questions about Henry Vilas Zoo? We’d love to hear from you! We’ve answered some your most frequently asked questions below, but if there’s something we didn’t address, feel free to call us, email us, or fill out the contact form at the bottom of the page. To stay up to date on everything happening at the zoo, follow us on social media or sign up for our e-newsletter!
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Stay up to date on everything going on at Henry Vilas Zoo when you sign up for Zoo Mail, our e-newsletter! You’ll be the first to know about upcoming events and activities, like our annual Zoo Run Run, Zoo Lights, ZOOvies, and more! We’ll also keep you updated on new exhibits and animals, as well as employment and volunteer opportunities.
Frequently Asked Questions
Admission to the zoo is free! Rides on the zoo train & carousel are $2 each, and feeding the goats is $.50. The zoo is open year-round (even in the winter!) from 9:30am-5:00pm. There are a few select holidays when we close at 12:00pm — check out our Visit page for more information.
This varies, as we let our animals decide whether they’d like to be in their indoor or outdoor exhibit each day. So, there may be times when certain animals are not on display or certain animal buildings are closed to the public. Also, some animals are more active in the cooler hours of early morning and early evening, and less active during peak zoo hours. You may occasionally see keepers working in an animal habitat — take the opportunity to ask them about their work and their animals!
Henry Vilas Zoo is located at 702 South Randall Avenue in Madison, just down the street from the University of Wisconsin’s Camp Randall Stadium. The zoo is surrounded by Vilas Park, Lake Wingra, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison Arboretum. For more detailed directions and information about our free parking, refer to our Visit page. Once you’re in the zoo, you can use this map (also posted around the zoo) to get around.
As an admission-free zoo, we rely on the financial support of our members and donors. By purchasing a zoo membership, you’re helping us take care of our animals and further our global conservation efforts. Zoo members receive a variety of amazing benefits not available to non-members. Visit our Become a Member page for more information.
The zoo has something delicious for everyone! Adjacent to our award-winning Arctic Passage exhibit is our Glacier Grille, which overlooks the polar bears. It’s the only restaurant of its kind! Stop by Badger Bites next to the gift shop for a quick snack, or visit one of our ice cream carts located throughout the zoo. Find more information on our Visit page.
Yes — coolers and picnic baskets are permitted on zoo grounds and there are picnic areas located in central areas of the zoo. We just ask that outside food is not brought into our Glacier Grille restaurant.
Yes, we’re pleased to offer both strollers and push wheelchairs for rent in the zoo gift shop on a first-come, first-serve basis. The cost is a $10 deposit (you will get $5 back upon returning the stroller or wheelchair). You must also leave a driver’s license, which will be given back to you upon your return. For safety reasons, strollers and wheelchairs are not available for rent during the winter, however, you can bring your own during this time.
For the safety of your pet and our zoo animals, all pets are prohibited, including therapy or emotional support pets. However, certified service animals are permitted. Find more information on our Visit page.
Any zoo employee or volunteer would be happy to help you; however, there is a Visitor Relations desk located in our Visitor Center, which is up the hill from the North American porcupine and African penguin exhibits.
Yes, our new bathroom facilities, located in the center of the zoo, have a nursing mothers’ room. Any zoo staff member or volunteer will be happy to unlock the room for you to use.
Due to our small staff, we don’t offer these at this time. Occasionally, however, our education docents will be on zoo grounds with our ambassador animals. Also, certain membership levels involve opportunities to meet our animals up close.
We’re always looking for volunteers to help us in many different roles at the zoo, including guest services, conservation education, and special events. Visit our Volunteer page to learn how to get involved! We also offer internships throughout the year in a variety of areas. Find open internships on our Work at the Zoo page.
Our staff is dedicated to educating our community on the wildlife that calls Henry Vilas Zoo home, and we’re pleased to offer a variety of educational programming, including sleepovers, preschool programs, zoo camp, bleacher programs, and Zoo to You. As an admission-free, community-supported zoo, we also welcome groups from area schools, churches, after-school programs and more! For more information, visit our Education page.
Like we said, we love to hear from our zoo visitors! If we didn’t answer your question above, feel free to give us a call, send us an email, or fill out the form below.