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Snooze at the Zoo

Imagine falling asleep while the bats wake up behind you or the Aldabra tortoises snooze over your shoulder. Come and see what the zoo is like at night! Our sleepovers offer you a chance to see what happens when everyone else goes home and the animals settle in for the night. You’ll enjoy a special animal presentation, animal activities, and some behind-the-scenes experiences.

Our public sleepovers are designed for families with children age five through early teen. We also offer one adult-only sleepover per season.

Our group sleepovers are for groups of 20 – 30 people. Groups must have at least one adult for every ten children.

NEW this year! Join us for an evening only Pajama Jam!

Explore the zoo at night, but then go home to sleep in your own bed! Join us for our Pajama Jam and see what zoo animals do after the sun goes down. Enjoy an animal encounter, story time, and a bedtime snack.

This program is designed for families with children ages 4-8.


Polar Region: What special adaptations help polar animals survive? How is climate change affecting life at the poles? What can you do to help? You’ll learn about our cold weather animals, make some enrichment for them, and see them enjoying it the next morning. You’ll also help zookeepers prep an animal enclosure before the zoo opens. Appropriate for children ages five and up. (Theme not available for group sleepovers.)

Jr. Zoo Vet: What do keepers and vets do to make sure animals at the zoo are healthy? Step into their shoes as you try to solve our animal challenge. You’ll hone your observation skills by closely studying our animals to come up with a solution. We’ll introduce you to several special animals and give you the chance to help the keepers get the zoo ready in the morning. Please note: This program is designed for families with children ages 5 – 10. We try to go to bed a half an hour earlier than our other programs and the activities are designed for a slightly younger audience.

Conservation Heroes: Learn how zoos help protect and save wildlife, and meet animals along the way including some endangered animals that live here at the zoo. You’ll go inside animal enclosures to help our keepers with setup in the morning, and you’ll also learn how your actions make a difference. You can be a conservation hero with us! This program is most appropriate for families with children ages 8 – 12, but younger children are welcome.

Zoo Scavenger Hunt: Discover the zoo in a whole new way! Work as a team to find clues that will lead us to learn more about the zoo and the animals that live here. Practice your scientific tracking skills using telemetry equipment and uncover the mystery animal. This program is most appropriate for families with children 8-14, but younger children are welcome.

Adults Only: Conservation and History at the Henry Vilas Zoo – Trivia Night: For adults 18+, come and learn the ins and outs of the zoo after dark. You’ll meet some special animals up close and learn more about what the zoo does to care for animals on grounds and in the wild. Then, test your knowledge in a rousing game of trivia! Remember how fun the zoo was as a kid? Now see how fun it can be as an adult!

Sleepover Dates

Public Sleepover Dates

Friday, April 5th – Polar Region
Friday, April 12th – Conservation Heroes
Friday, April 26th – Zoo Trivia (Adult 18+ alcohol-free)
Friday, May 3rd – Zoo Scavenger Hunt
Saturday, May 18th – Jr. Zoo Vet

Group Sleepover Dates
(Choose your theme: Conservation Heroes, Jr. Zoo Vet, or Zoo Scavenger Hunt)

Friday, March 15th
Saturday, April 13th
Saturday, May 4th
Friday, May 17th

Pajama Jam Dates
Saturday, March 16th
Friday, May 10th

Prices & Registration

Public Sleepovers
Member Price: $65 per person
Non-Member Price: $75 per person
(Join as a member and receive a $10 discount per person)

Group (Private) Sleepovers
$70 per person

Pajama Jam
Member Price: $25 per person
Non-Member Price: $30 per person

*All people attending the sleepover must register and pay. Adults and children pay the same price to attend. Children must be accompanied by adults.

Questions? Email

Registration is now open! Click below to register.


What do we do at a sleepover?

What you will do depends a little on the theme of the sleepover you sign up for, but our sleepovers follow a general itinerary similar to what is listed here:
7:00pm: Arrival and check-in/group welcome activity (eat dinner before you arrive)
7:30 – 8:30pm: Animal presentation and thematic activities, visit specific animals behind the scenes
8:30 – 9:00pm: Snack and activities
9:00 – 9:30pm: Evening stories or activities
9:30 – 10:00pm: Get ready for bed
10:00pm: Lights out
6:30am: Wake up
6:30 – 7:15am: Coffee, get ready for the day, and pack your overnight stuff
7:15 – 8:00am: Breakfast
8:30 – 9:30am: Meet an animal up close, help zookeepers prepare an animal enclosure for the day, wrap-up activities, and good-bye

How much time will our group spend with animals and behind the scenes?

Our sleepovers include several special animal experiences. In general, this means we’ll show you a formal animal presentation with our education animals, give you the chance to meet a couple zoo animals up close, and give you a few opportunities to go behind the scenes. We do ask you to keep in mind that the animals need their rest, too, so many of our animals will be sleeping in their cozy den-like spaces off-viewing. All of our planned activities may vary depending on animal needs and zookeeper recommendations. You are welcome to stay at the zoo when it opens to the public at 9:30am to see the rest of the zoo.

Where do we sleep?

You will be sleeping on the floor in the Discovery Center and Herpetarium. Both parts of the building stay quite warm at night, so we recommend bringing layers and being prepared for a warm night. The Discovery Center has several reptiles and mammals in it, and the Herpetarium has many more reptiles and amphibians. Many people say sleeping next to these animals is the highlight of their stay!

What should we bring?

  • Any sleeping gear you need to be comfortable. We recommend a sleeping pad, cot, or air mattress, and blankets and sheets or a sleeping bag
  • Pajamas
  • Basic toiletries
  • Clothes for the outdoors. Bring rain gear as needed
  • You also need to have close-toed shoes to participate in all activities

Our bathrooms are shared and we ask that you limit your morning routine to the basics (consider it sort of a camping experience) so that everyone can get through the bathrooms in the evening and morning. You will be walking around the zoo during these activity times, so please dress appropriately for the weather.

What meals are included?

Plan on eating dinner before you arrive. We serve a bedtime snack and a hearty breakfast in the morning. Please contact us if you have special dietary needs or questions.

What is the difference between a sleepover and a Pajama Jam?

We are now offering an evening only Pajama Jam for those of you who want to experience the zoo after dark, but still go home to sleep in your own bed. The evening includes an animal encounter, a story time, and a bedtime snack.

The Pajama Jam will run from 6:00-9:00pm for families with children ages 4-8.

What is the difference between a public sleepover and a group sleepover?

Our public sleepovers are open to everyone and are limited to 20 people. The themes are pre-set. Small groups of less than 20 can sign up as individuals to attend a public sleepover together.

Group sleepovers are for groups of 20 – 30. You get to pick from the themes being offered during the season. Some dates are reserved for groups and some are reserved for the public.

How many adults need to attend? What is my role as an adult?

We require that one adult come for every ten kids that they sign up to chaperone. As the chaperoning adult, you are responsible for helping your children with the bathroom, getting ready for bed, and packing in the morning. For everyone’s safety, we also ask that you make sure that your children listen to the zoo staff leading the program.

Should we bring any money with us?

The gift shop and Glacier Grille open at 9:30 the next morning if you would like to purchase something after the sleepover ends. We do not have any merchandise or items available to purchase during the program.

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