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Preschool Pride

Welcome to Preschool Pride at Henry Vilas Zoo! Like a lion pride that cares for a group of cubs, we are excited to spend some time with you and your little one! Pre-school Pride is a three-session program so your child can feel more connected to our staff and the other children in the group.

Registration for our spring sessions is now open!

Click here for a full spring class schedule.

For questions, please email us at or call 608-444-1861.

What is your educational approach for Preschool Pride?

As we’ve come more in line with current research on early childhood education, we’ve made our programs more child-centered and play-based. That means:

  • We acknowledge that in early childhood, the empathy children feel for animals is best nurtured through play
  • Children learn the most when they have options when it comes to activities they want to participate in
  • We recognize the importance of imaginary play in young children
  • We encourage you to follow your child’s lead and join in the child-directed play
  • We emphasize building on children’s curiosity and listening to their questions about nature. Sharing information in this context helps children make sense of the world and helps them feel ownership over their new discoveries

What will we do during Preschool Pride sessions?

Here is what a typical session looks like:

  • Children are welcomed to the class with introductions, expectations, a song, and a thematic story
  • Free play: Children have time to explore our animal-themed toys and sensory table in the Animal Health Center, observe the primates on exhibit through the classroom window, or make an animal-themed craft project
  • We provide a peanut-free snack
  • Group exploration of the zoo: We’ll explore a part of the zoo together that relates to our theme for the day. Knowledgeable zoo staff lead this tour and share the inside stories of our individual animals
  • Zookeeper chores: During the last session, we put on our imaginary zookeeper hats and step into a real animal enclosure to help keepers prepare the animal’s home for the day

How big are your classes?

Our classes have a limit of 8 children. One adult can bring up to two siblings. We offer a discount for siblings and for zoo members.

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