Posts Tagged ‘Family Fun’

A Night Among the Animals

by | July 23rd, 2012

Camping in the Meadow

Have you ever spent the night at a zoo? Well here’s your chance. In case you

Roasting Marshmallows at the Campfire

haven’t heard, there are several programs that the Oakland Zoo offers to groups and families that allow them to experience this unique and fun opportunity.


Bedtime with the Beasts is a great example. Catering to organizations like scouts, schools and community groups, it includes a private zoo tour, a close-up encounter with a small animal, a fun educational activity, and a continental breakfast the next day.

Fun with Drums

This year-round program is especially popular with Boy Scout and Girl Scout organizations, who utilize the Oakland Zoo as part of their badge-earning and

Breakfast is Served

“Journey” activities. Scheduled from 7pm until 10am the following morning, BTWB provides a unique environment for these kids to enrich their scouting experience.


Schools can also take part in the Bedtime with the Beasts program. The activities involved are fun and age appropriate, and the curriculum conforms to California science standards.

Greeting a Hedgehog

BTWB also serves community groups such as YMCAs, Girls, Inc., and church youth groups, offering activities such as “Zoo Snoops,” which gives participants the chance to use clues to identify a series of mystery animal species as they move through the Zoo, where they find boxes of artifacts that enable them to learn more about these fascinating animals.

Making Enrichment Projects

Since it’s offered year-round, BTWB allows for flexibility in sleeping accommodations:  either outdoors in the Zoo meadow, or inside the cozy education auditorium, depending on weather, curriculum, or group size.

But you don’t have to be affiliated with any group to enjoy the Zoo’s Family Sundown Safari, a fun summertime program from 5pm to 10am that caters exclusively to families. Held on five different dates throughout July and August, FSS offers families the chance to bring their own tent and sleep in the Zoo’s large grassy meadow. A series of cool activities awaits the participants. Once the tents are set up and people get settled in, they get to use their creative skills to make fun enrichment projects for the animals. Afterward, everyone goes on a nighttime tour of the Zoo. Back at camp, a professional storyteller awaits them with engaging tales of the animal world.  Around the campfire, everyone gets to roast marshmallows and make their own s’mores.  The next morning after a memorable night under the stars, a hot breakfast in the Zoo’s café starts the day off right. Next is a tour of the homes of the Zoo’s many rain forest animals. And finally, everyone gets the chance to see their enrichment items opened and enjoyed by the animals.  All in all, the Family Sundown Safari promises a memorable overnight experience for everyone involved.

Choosing Treats for the Animals

And things are on their way to getting even better. As you know, the Oakland Zoo is planning to begin building its long awaited California exhibit complex. When completed, we’re hoping to have special overnight facilities up on the hill behind the Zoo, including tent cabins, fire pits and hiking trails. The project will take some time to complete, but it’s something that we’re all looking forward to here at the Zoo.


So if you and your crew are looking for a memorable way to experience the

Enjoying the Enrichment

Oakland Zoo, try one of our fun overnight programs: Bedtime with the Beasts or Family Sundown Safari. It’s easy to book a date; simply visit the Zoo’s website or call our Education Reservation Associate at 510-632-9525 x220. See you under the stars!


Discover a New Species of Birthday Parties!

by | August 5th, 2011

Hey parents! Your kid’s birthday’s coming up, isn’t it? You need to plan that party. But maybe you’re tired of the same old bounce castle and party game routine. Perhaps you’ve been trying to think of a new and unique way to help them celebrate their birthday this year. With the Oakland Zoo’s ZooMobile program, you can give your child a memorable birthday party that he or she will be talking about with their friends for a long time to come. After all, how often do you get to touch wild animals in your own home?!

Great Horned Owl

Accommodating a group of up to 25 people, the Oakland ZooMobile comes to your own home with several kid-size critters for a fun, educational experience that your child and his friends will love. Led by one of the Zoo’s experienced education specialists, this entertaining and informative program lasts a full 45 minutes. This allows plenty of time to see, touch and learn about four or five of our animals, such as hedgehogs, chinchillas, lizards, snakes and cool big bugs. There’s always an interesting mix of native and exotic species. As our School Programs Manager, Sarah, likes to say, “We try to bring you one fuzzy, one prickly, one scaly and one buggy.” Specific themes are also available. If you like, you can request an all-reptile presentation (Hooray for Herps), Creatures of the Night, Amazing Adaptations, or one that deals exclusively with the fascinating world of insects, such as walking sticks, millipedes and tarantulas (Invertebrate Invasion).

Bearded Dragon

With the kids seated in a circle, the animals are brought out one at a time. Here, in a comfortable home setting, the kids learn about the physical adaptations that make each of these animals successful, the kinds of things that they eat and various behaviors that they display. Everyone who’s interested will have the opportunity to touch each of them. There’s also plenty of time for the kids to ask any questions they might have. Our enthusiastic, knowledgeable staff members are always ready to share their love of animals with everyone.

But there’s more. Included in the presentation is a gift bag filled with animal-themed items for each child in attendance as well as a special gift for the birthday

Touching a Turtle


So if this sounds like a great new way to celebrate your child’s birthday, sign up today for a ZooMobile birthday party in your own home. Who knows, someone in that crowd of little faces who’s touching a wild animal for the first time may be a future zookeeper or wildlife scientist!

For more information, including fees and other policies, please check out the Birthday ZooMobile webpage on the Oakland Zoo website.




Zoo-to-Community Is Spreading Its Wings

by | November 4th, 2010

There’s Big News happening with the Zoo-To-Community program (ZTC) here at the Oakland Zoo. The program just received its first big grant for schools outside of Oakland! Since its inception three years ago, the Zoo-To-Community (ZTC) program has offered vouchers for free Zoo admission and access to programs such as ZooSchool, ZooMobile, ZooSchool Discovery and Zoo field trips to local residents who might not otherwise be able to afford them.

ZTC Kids at the Zoo

And now, thanks to the generosity of the East Bay Community Foundation, funds are available to reach West Contra Costa County. That’s definitely good news for Richmond Title 1 elementary schools, (where 75% or more of the kids are on the free lunch program) child development centers, and Head Start schools. Head Start, as you may know, is a national program that promotes school readiness. The Title 1 program provides funding to school systems for students at risk of failure and living at the poverty level.

During these last three years, ZTC has been steadily expanding. Through the use of mailings to school principals, the word has been spreading, and more schools have been getting involved. Participation has quadrupled in the last year alone, enabling the program to reach an impressive 16,000 people, including 13,000 school-age children.

Grants from donor organizations are a big part of the Zoo-To-Community program. In a typical year, ZTC receives half a dozen such grants, ranging from $2,000 to $15,000 a piece, from supporters such as First 5, Bechtel, Clorox, Wells Fargo, The Junior League, and the Rogers Foundation. So the East Bay Community Foundation’s grant for $ 15,000 represents a substantial part of ZTC’s financial backing for the year.

Up Close with a Turtle

What all this financial business boils down to is this: last year we had the most funding ever for bus transportation. Up

Touching a Hedgehog

till now, the biggest headache for ZTC– the one thing that’s kept the program from achieving its full potential has been transportation. Oakland is one of the few major cities that doesn’t have its own school bus system. Even with free Zoo admission, many people simply had no way to get here. So the program’s resources weren’t being fully utilized. But now, thanks in large measure to the East Bay Community Foundation’s Grant, that’s all changing.

All of this is exciting news for Zoo-To-Community Coordinator Sarah Powers, who has derived great satisfaction from being able to offer the benefits of the Oakland Zoo to a whole new segment of the East Bay community. Ms. Powers, who’s been in charge of ZTC for the past year and a half, says she looks forward to continued expansion of the Zoo-To-Community program in both Alameda and Contra Costa Counties. So if you’re eligible for ZTC, get on the bus and check out the Oakland Zoo!