By Kelsey Burr, Marketing Associate
You’re never too old to stop learning. At Naples Zoo, we strive to make that a reality, by offering educational programs for all ages. Our mission statement is to inspire people of all ages to respect, value and help conserve wildlife and our natural world. By providing a variety of programs and experiences for guests, we hope to do just that.
Families who want a unique behind-the-scenes experience can book one of our Wild Encounters, a new education program we recently launched. Wild Encounters allow guests to get closer to animals than the general public. Options include feeding a penguin, making enrichment for the honey badgers, feeding an anteater, or watching our blinded panther Uno in a training session with his keepers. With all these special encounters, guests will also learn how the animals are cared for, and what conservation actions they can take to help these animals in the wild. To book Wild Encounters, click here!
Conservation Lecture Series
For guests interested in conservation, another great place to learn about issues facing animals is our Conservation Lecture Series. On January 18, guests can learn about black bears, a species often found here in Collier County. The speaker is Mike Orlando, the Assistant Coordinator of the Bear Management Program for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. He will discuss ways we can live together with bears, and talk about how incredible black bears can be. On February 3, guests will be able to meet Dr. Arnaud Desbiez and learn about the work he’s doing to save giant anteaters and giant armadillos in South America. On February 15, guests can learn about tigers and the work to save wild tigers in Asia. And on March 15, learn about lemurs and Madagascar, and how the Madagascar Fauna and Flora Group is helping to save lemurs, while also helping the people. RSVP and learn more about these lectures here!
For children ages five through 12, Naples Zoo offers Camp WILD! During camp, kids will have a chance to meet zookeepers and learn how we care for animals, go behind-the-scenes and learn all kinds of interesting facts, make arts and crafts, and play games! Parents can sign their children up for camp during Spring Break, Summer Break, or Winter Break to continue learning outside the classroom! Learn more here.
For the young learners, we offer Safari Squad, a program for three to five year olds. Safari Squad programs feature a short lesson taught by Zoo educators, interactive play stations that relate to the lesson, an arts and crafts project, and an animal encounter. Safari Squad programs are from 10 – 11 am one Tuesday, Wednesday, and Saturday each month. Each month has a different theme, but they are all a great time for the children and their parents! In past programs, children have been able to touch a ball python, see a hedgehog up close, and see a scorpion glow under a black light! To register for Safari Squad, click here!
Another new program Naples Zoo is offering is Zoo Yoga. It allows guests to exercise their body as well as their mind, as they breathe, stretch and relax in nature. Zoo Yoga is typically held on one Sunday each month, from 9:30 – 10:30 am. The best part is the moves are fun for all ages and have an animal theme. Register now for Sunday, January 21 or Sunday, February 18 here!
Everyday Learning at Naples Zoo
Learning isn’t exclusive to just these programs. Every day at Naples Zoo is an educational experience. For guests who are just visiting, take a moment to read the signs by each exhibit. They contain a lot of interesting information on the animals, as well as detail our conservation efforts.
We also offer Keeper Talks at the exhibits of various animals, where guests can talk directly to that animal’s zoo keeper and ask them questions. View the schedule here!
For leisurely learning fun, there’s the Primate Expedition Cruise, where guests can board a catamaran for a 15 to 20 minute cruise through our islands of primates. As the cruise passes each island of monkeys, lemurs and apes, the boat guide will give interesting facts about the fascinating animals.
Another great educational experience for families is the Safari Canyon Seated Safari shows, which run daily at 10:30 am and 2:30 pm with a different focus for each one. These shows showcase animals that aren’t on exhibit – so they can only be seen at a Seated Safari.
And for families interested in learning more about one of the most infamous Florida reptiles, the alligator, we have the Alligator Bay Feeding. Watch as the reptile keepers stand just feet from the alligators and feed them, while they conduct a training session. The keepers will also teach you the truth behind the myths of gators.
The Keeper Talks, Primate Expedition Cruise, Alligator Bay Feeding and Safari Canyon Seated Safari shows are included in admission. Everywhere you look, there’s an opportunity for learning, as soon as you step foot into Naples Zoo. We look forward to seeing you soon!
For teachers who are interested in taking a Field Trip to Naples Zoo, we now offer on-site education programs called Field Trip Experiences, which are taught by Zoo educators in our classroom. Learn more about our education options for school groups here.