Animal Encounters

NOTE: Each person in the encounter area must have their own ticket. Animal Encounters do not include admission to the Zoo.

Add an up-close and personal experience to your visit to the Zoo with one of our Animal Encounters! During these Animal Encounters, you’ll get to meet the animals and talk to their keepers for a unique experience.

Zoo Member discounts are available. Zoo Members must be logged in to the ticketing website for the discount to appear in their cart.

Please read all our “Reservation Policies” and “What to Expect” below. All participants must sign a Participant Liability Waiver when they get to the Zoo. You can read it in advance here: Participant Liability Waiver.

Otter Encounters are available for purchase now.

Each person who participates in this encounter must have their own ticket.

Frannie, Sam, and Shadow would love to show off their intelligence during a behind-the-scenes tour and training session. Watch our animal care staff train one or two of our otters. You can have the opportunity to feed them part of their Zoo-approved diet as well!

Only ticketed people will be allowed within the Animal Encounter area. Each encounter lasts approximately 20 minutes. This is not a touch encounter.

Encounter Days: Saturdays through May 31, Sundays June 1-August 31, Saturdays September 1-end of the season.

Encounter Limit: 6 people per day

Encounter Time: 2 p.m.

Individual Ticket Cost: $35 per person

Member Discount: 10%

Note: Zoo Members must be logged into their cart on the ticketing page to get the discount.

Age Restrictions: This encounter is for people over age 2. Ticketed children under 14 must be accompanied by a ticketed adult over 18. Each person who participates must have a ticket. Babies 2 and under won't be able to wait in the encounter area. Strollers won't fit in the encounter area. Please plan accordingly.

Buy Encounter Here

Flamingo Encounters are available for purchase now.

Each person who participates in this encounter must have their own ticket.

Meet in the playground before you get to flamingle with our flock! During this encounter, you'll go in the flamingo feeding corral and get a cup of krill, one of our flamingos' favorite snacks! You'll get to feed the flamingos and learn about them from one of our zoo keepers.

Only ticketed people will be allowed within the Animal Encounter area. Each encounter lasts approximately 30 minutes. This is not a touch encounter.

Encounter Days: Every Sunday (limited to 6 people per day)

Encounter Time: 12 p.m.

Individual Ticket Cost: $25 per person

Member Discount: 10%

Note: Zoo Members must be logged into their cart on the ticketing page to get the discount.

Age Restrictions: Ticketed children under 14 must be accompanied by a ticketed adult over 18. Each person who enters the flamingo corral must have a ticket. Strollers won't fit in the encounter area. Please plan accordingly.

Buy Encounter Here

Okapi Encounters are available for purchase now.

Each person who participates in this encounter must have their own ticket.

Experience this endangered species up close and personal. First meet at the okapi window before you go inside the Zoo's okapi barn. Behind-the-scenes, you'll get to watch an okapi training and enrichment session with Will or Corky while you learn about these rare and beautiful relatives of giraffes from one of our zoo keepers.

Only ticketed people will be allowed within the Animal Encounter area. Each encounter lasts approximately 30 minutes. This is not a touch encounter.

Encounter Days: Sundays through May 31, Saturdays June 1-August 31, Sundays September 1-end of the season.

Encounter Limit: 4 people per day

Encounter Time: 2 p.m.

Individual Ticket Cost: $35 per person

Member Discount: 10%

Note: Zoo Members must be logged into their cart on the ticketing page to get the discount.

Age Restrictions: Ticketed children under 14 must be accompanied by a ticketed adult over 18. Each person who enters the okapi barn must have a ticket. Strollers won't fit in the encounter area. Please plan accordingly.

Buy Encounter Here

Rhino Encounters are available for purchase now.

Each person who participates in this encounter must have their own ticket.

At this Animal Encounter, you'll have the opportunity to get up close with Masamba, our southern white rhino, in a special meet and greet area at the front of his habitat. You'll also get to speak with animal care staff about Masamba and the important role he plays as an ambassador for his wild counterparts, plus learn how we take care of him all year long. You might even have the chance to touch Masamba and feel his tough rhino skin!

Only ticketed people will be allowed within the Animal Encounter area. Each encounter lasts approximately 20 minutes. Please contact the Zoo in advance at info@potawatomizoo.org if you have questions about accessibility.

Encounter Days: Saturdays through May 31, Sundays June 1-August 31, Saturdays September 1-end of the season.

Encounter Limit: 6 people per day

Encounter Time: 11 a.m.

Individual Ticket Cost: $40 per person

Member Discount: 10%

Note: Zoo Members must be logged into their cart on the ticketing page to get the discount.

Age Restrictions: This Animal Encounter is for people ages 6 and up. Children under 14 must be accompanied by a ticketed adult over 18. Each person who enters the Animal Encounter area must have a ticket. Non-ticketed people or strollers can't be in the encounter area but can wait on the Rhino Deck.

Buy Encounter Here

Sloth Encounters are not available for purchase at this time.

The purchase of a sloth encounter is for a group of up to 6 people. You will need only one ticket. You will check-in at the black gates between the admission building and the Learning Center building 10 minutes before the start of your encounter. During your Sloth Encounter, you'll have the opportunity to get up close to our Linne's two-toed sloth, in a special meet and greet in one of our Education classrooms.  Speak with Education staff about our sloth and the important role they play as an ambassador for their wild counterparts or have the opportunity to feed them  Zoo-approved diet (subject to participation). You can take photos as well. 

Please check in at the black gate between the admission building and Learning Center building 10 minutes prior to the encounter.

Encounter Day: by arrangement with Education

Encounter Time: by arrangement with Education

Encounter Cost: $250 for the group encounter of up to 6 people. 

Member Discount: 10%

Note: Zoo Members must be logged into their cart on the ticketing page to get the discount.

Age Restrictions: This Animal Encounter is for people ages 6 and up.

Safety Requirements:  This is not a touch encounter.

For questions please contact: education@potawatomizoo.org or (574) 235-9070

Buy Encounter Here

Bison Encounters have changed.

Every Saturday, bison feeding is available at 12:00 to anyone who wants to participate. Tickets can be purchased at the entrance or at the bison feeding station.

You'll have the opportunity to hand feed our American bison part of their Zoo-approved diet and talk to one of our zoo keepers about our nation's largest land mammal.

Only ticketed people will be allowed within the Animal Encounter area.

Encounter Days: Every Saturday

Encounter Time: 12 p.m.

Individual Ticket Cost: $6 per person, or you can use 2 attraction tickets or 2 punches on an Attraction Pass

Age Restrictions: Any age can participate. Children under 14 must be accompanied by a ticketed adult over 18. Each person who participates must have a ticket. Non-ticketed people or strollers can't be in the encounter area but can wait on the other side of the fence.

Buy Attraction Tickets

Experience the thrill of having one of the Zoo's Masai giraffes eat a piece of lettuce directly from your hand! This is an experience guaranteed to delight any Zoo visitor. Giraffe feeding will take place on the giraffe deck or inside the giraffe barn during inclement weather.

In spring and fall, Giraffe Feeding is 10:30 am to 11:30 am and 2 pm to 3 pm.

In summer, June 1 to August 31, Giraffe Feeding is 11 am - 1 pm and 4 pm to 6 pm.

An Attraction Ticket is required to feed the giraffe. They're $3 for 2 pieces of lettuce. Tickets can be purchased at the front entrance, gift shop, attractions booth, train ticket booth, or by clicking the button below.

Buy Attraction Tickets

Please note: The giraffes have individual preferences and engage in feeding at will. We can't guarantee their participation. Although attraction tickets aren't refundable, they can also be used on for the Potawatomi Express Train, Endangered Species Carousel, or bison feeding (coming soon, see details below). Everyone participating in giraffe feeding or around the giraffe feeding area must follow Zoo staff instructions. You may be asked to leave if you don't.

woman meeting white rhino
  • Follow all instructions of Zoo staff. Participants who do not follow instructions will be asked to leave and will not receive a refund.
  • Each person in the Animal Encounter area must have a ticket and only ticketed people will be allowed to participate in the encounter. Non-ticketed people, strollers, wagons, etc., are not allowed in the Animal Encounter area (except for Giraffe Feeding).
  • Please be aware of your surroundings and other participants.
  • All participants or guardians of participants must sign a Participant Liability Waiver (except for Giraffe Feeding).
  • The Animal Encounter will take place rain or shine.
  • Refunds or reschedules will not be issued for no-shows.
  • We take the health and safety of our animals, guests, and staff seriously. If you feel sick, please don't attend the encounter.
  • Service Animals are not allowed in the Animal Encounter area or giraffe deck for the safety and health of our animals.
  • Please contact the Zoo (info@potawatomizoo.org or 574-235-9800) if you have questions about wheelchair accommodation or other accommodation.
  • Animal Encounters last about 20 to 30 minutes.
  • Our animals participate voluntarily. We can’t guarantee any specific experience.
  • You can take photos and video during your Animal Encounter but please be aware of other people and your surroundings.
  • Clothes may get dirty during the encounter.
  • Hand sanitizer will be provided for guests before and after the Animal Encounter.
  • Each person who participates must have a ticket (see individual Animal Encounters for specific guidelines).
  • For Rhino, Otter, Okapi, and Flamingo, dparticipants must check in at the Attractions and Stroller Booth no later than 30 minutes before the scheduled Animal Encounter.
  • All participants or guardians of participants must sign a Participant Liability Waiver before they can participate in the encounter.
  • Refunds or reschedules will not be issued for no-shows. We will allow full refunds or reschedules made at least 48 hours before the scheduled Animal Encounter.
  • The Animal Encounter will take place rain or shine.
  • The Zoo will contact you if we have to change or reschedule your Animal Encounter.
  • Children under 14 must be accompanied by a ticketed adult over the age of 18. Some Animal Encounters have other age requirements listed.
  • Only ticketed participants will be allowed in the Animal Encounter area (except for Giraffe Feeding).
  • Animal Encounters do not include admission to the Zoo.

Animal Encounters

NOTE:Each person in the encounter area must have their own ticket. Animal Encounters do not include admission to the Zoo.

Add an up-close and personal experience to your visit to the Zoo with one of our Animal Encounters! During these Animal Encounters, you’ll get to meet the animals and talk to their keepers for a unique experience.

Zoo Member discounts are available. Zoo Members must be logged in to the ticketing website for the discount to appear in their cart.

Please read all our “Reservation Policies” and “What to Expect” below. All participants must sign a Participant Liability Waiver when they get to the Zoo. You can read it in advance here: Participant Liability Waiver.

Otter Encounters are available for purchase now.

Each person who participates in this encounter must have their own ticket.

Frannie, Sam, and Shadow would love to show off their intelligence during a behind-the-scenes tour and training session. Watch our animal care staff train one or two of our otters. You can have the opportunity to feed them part of their Zoo-approved diet as well!

Only ticketed people will be allowed within the Animal Encounter area. Each encounter lasts approximately 20 minutes. This is not a touch encounter.

Encounter Days: Saturdays through May 31, Sundays June 1-August 31, Saturdays September 1-end of the season.

Encounter Limit: 6 people per day

Encounter Time: 2 p.m.

Individual Ticket Cost: $35 per person

Member Discount: 10%

Note: Zoo Members must be logged into their cart on the ticketing page to get the discount.

Age Restrictions: This encounter is for people over age 2. Ticketed children under 14 must be accompanied by a ticketed adult over 18. Each person who participates must have a ticket. Babies 2 and under won't be able to wait in the encounter area. Strollers won't fit in the encounter area. Please plan accordingly.

Buy Encounter Here

Flamingo Encounters are available for purchase now.

Each person who participates in this encounter must have their own ticket.

Meet in the playground before you get to flamingle with our flock! During this encounter, you'll go in the flamingo feeding corral and get a cup of krill, one of our flamingos' favorite snacks! You'll get to feed the flamingos and learn about them from one of our zoo keepers.

Only ticketed people will be allowed within the Animal Encounter area. Each encounter lasts approximately 30 minutes. This is not a touch encounter.

Encounter Days: Every Sunday (limited to 6 people per day)

Encounter Time: 12 p.m.

Individual Ticket Cost: $25 per person

Member Discount: 10%

Note: Zoo Members must be logged into their cart on the ticketing page to get the discount.

Age Restrictions: Ticketed children under 14 must be accompanied by a ticketed adult over 18. Each person who enters the flamingo corral must have a ticket. Strollers won't fit in the encounter area. Please plan accordingly.

Buy Encounter Here

Okapi Encounters are available for purchase now.

Each person who participates in this encounter must have their own ticket.

Experience this endangered species up close and personal. First meet at the okapi window before you go inside the Zoo's okapi barn. Behind-the-scenes, you'll get to watch an okapi training and enrichment session with Will or Corky while you learn about these rare and beautiful relatives of giraffes from one of our zoo keepers.

Only ticketed people will be allowed within the Animal Encounter area. Each encounter lasts approximately 30 minutes. This is not a touch encounter.

Encounter Days: Sundays through May 31, Saturdays June 1-August 31, Sundays September 1-end of the season.

Encounter Limit: 4 people per day

Encounter Time: 2 p.m.

Individual Ticket Cost: $35 per person

Member Discount: 10%

Note: Zoo Members must be logged into their cart on the ticketing page to get the discount.

Age Restrictions: Ticketed children under 14 must be accompanied by a ticketed adult over 18. Each person who enters the okapi barn must have a ticket. Strollers won't fit in the encounter area. Please plan accordingly.

Buy Encounter Here

Rhino Encounters are available for purchase now.

Each person who participates in this encounter must have their own ticket.

At this Animal Encounter, you'll have the opportunity to get up close with Masamba, our southern white rhino, in a special meet and greet area at the front of his habitat. You'll also get to speak with animal care staff about Masamba and the important role he plays as an ambassador for his wild counterparts, plus learn how we take care of him all year long. You might even have the chance to touch Masamba and feel his tough rhino skin!

Only ticketed people will be allowed within the Animal Encounter area. Each encounter lasts approximately 20 minutes. Please contact the Zoo in advance at info@potawatomizoo.org if you have questions about accessibility.

Encounter Days: Saturdays through May 31, Sundays June 1-August 31, Saturdays September 1-end of the season.

Encounter Limit: 6 people per day

Encounter Time: 11 a.m.

Individual Ticket Cost: $40 per person

Member Discount: 10%

Note: Zoo Members must be logged into their cart on the ticketing page to get the discount.

Age Restrictions: This Animal Encounter is for people ages 6 and up. Children under 14 must be accompanied by a ticketed adult over 18. Each person who enters the Animal Encounter area must have a ticket. Non-ticketed people or strollers can't be in the encounter area but can wait on the Rhino Deck.

Buy Encounter Here

Sloth Encounters are not available for purchase at this time.

The purchase of a sloth encounter is for a group of up to 6 people. You will need only one ticket. You will check-in at the black gates between the admission building and the Learning Center building 10 minutes before the start of your encounter. During your Sloth Encounter, you'll have the opportunity to get up close to our Linne's two-toed sloth, in a special meet and greet in one of our Education classrooms.  Speak with Education staff about our sloth and the important role they play as an ambassador for their wild counterparts or have the opportunity to feed them  Zoo-approved diet (subject to participation). You can take photos as well. 

Please check in at the black gate between the admission building and Learning Center building 10 minutes prior to the encounter.

Encounter Day: by arrangement with Education

Encounter Time: by arrangement with Education

Encounter Cost: $250 for the group encounter of up to 6 people. 

Member Discount: 10%

Note: Zoo Members must be logged into their cart on the ticketing page to get the discount.

Age Restrictions: This Animal Encounter is for people ages 6 and up.

Safety Requirements:  This is not a touch encounter.

For questions please contact: education@potawatomizoo.org or (574) 235-9070

Buy Encounter Here

Bison Encounters have changed.

Every Saturday, bison feeding is available at 12:00 to anyone who wants to participate. Tickets can be purchased at the entrance or at the bison feeding station.

You'll have the opportunity to hand feed our American bison part of their Zoo-approved diet and talk to one of our zoo keepers about our nation's largest land mammal.

Only ticketed people will be allowed within the Animal Encounter area.

Encounter Days: Every Saturday

Encounter Time: 12 p.m.

Individual Ticket Cost: $6 per person, or you can use 2 attraction tickets or 2 punches on an Attraction Pass

Age Restrictions: Any age can participate. Children under 14 must be accompanied by a ticketed adult over 18. Each person who participates must have a ticket. Non-ticketed people or strollers can't be in the encounter area but can wait on the other side of the fence.

Buy Attraction Tickets

Experience the thrill of having one of the Zoo's Masai giraffes eat a piece of lettuce directly from your hand! This is an experience guaranteed to delight any Zoo visitor. Giraffe feeding will take place on the giraffe deck or inside the giraffe barn during inclement weather.

In spring and fall, Giraffe Feeding is 10:30 am to 11:30 am and 2 pm to 3 pm.

In summer, June 1 to August 31, Giraffe Feeding is 11 am - 1 pm and 4 pm to 6 pm.

An Attraction Ticket is required to feed the giraffe. They're $3 for 2 pieces of lettuce. Tickets can be purchased at the front entrance, gift shop, attractions booth, train ticket booth, or by clicking the button below.

Buy Attraction Tickets

Please note: The giraffes have individual preferences and engage in feeding at will. We can't guarantee their participation. Although attraction tickets aren't refundable, they can also be used on for the Potawatomi Express Train, Endangered Species Carousel, or bison feeding (coming soon, see details below). Everyone participating in giraffe feeding or around the giraffe feeding area must follow Zoo staff instructions. You may be asked to leave if you don't.

woman meeting white rhino
  • Follow all instructions of Zoo staff. Participants who do not follow instructions will be asked to leave and will not receive a refund.
  • Each person in the Animal Encounter area must have a ticket and only ticketed people will be allowed to participate in the encounter. Non-ticketed people, strollers, wagons, etc., are not allowed in the Animal Encounter area (except for Giraffe Feeding).
  • Please be aware of your surroundings and other participants.
  • All participants or guardians of participants must sign a Participant Liability Waiver (except for Giraffe Feeding).
  • The Animal Encounter will take place rain or shine.
  • Refunds or reschedules will not be issued for no-shows.
  • We take the health and safety of our animals, guests, and staff seriously. If you feel sick, please don't attend the encounter.
  • Service Animals are not allowed in the Animal Encounter area or giraffe deck for the safety and health of our animals.
  • Please contact the Zoo (info@potawatomizoo.org or 574-235-9800) if you have questions about wheelchair accommodation or other accommodation.
  • Animal Encounters last about 20 to 30 minutes.
  • Our animals participate voluntarily. We can’t guarantee any specific experience.
  • You can take photos and video during your Animal Encounter but please be aware of other people and your surroundings.
  • Clothes may get dirty during the encounter.
  • Hand sanitizer will be provided for guests before and after the Animal Encounter.
  • Each person who participates must have a ticket (see individual Animal Encounters for specific guidelines).
  • For Rhino, Otter, Okapi, and Flamingo, dparticipants must check in at the Attractions and Stroller Booth no later than 30 minutes before the scheduled Animal Encounter.
  • All participants or guardians of participants must sign a Participant Liability Waiver before they can participate in the encounter.
  • Refunds or reschedules will not be issued for no-shows. We will allow full refunds or reschedules made at least 48 hours before the scheduled Animal Encounter.
  • The Animal Encounter will take place rain or shine.
  • The Zoo will contact you if we have to change or reschedule your Animal Encounter.
  • Children under 14 must be accompanied by a ticketed adult over the age of 18. Some Animal Encounters have other age requirements listed.
  • Only ticketed participants will be allowed in the Animal Encounter area (except for Giraffe Feeding).
  • Animal Encounters do not include admission to the Zoo.

Keeper Chats

Our Zoo keepers and Education staff love to talk about the animals in their care! Keeper Chats vary daily, so look for the Keeper Chat sign around the Zoo. These include meet and greets with ambassador animals, watching animals receive enrichment or food treats, and learning about animals around the Zoo.

Please Note: All Keeper Chats are subject to change without notification. These are not touch or feeding encounters.

April 2024 Keeper Chats

Keeper Chats

Our Zoo keepers and Education staff love to talk about the animals in their care! Keeper Chats vary daily, so look for the Keeper Chat sign around the Zoo. These include meet and greets with ambassador animals, watching animals receive enrichment or food treats, and learning about animals around the Zoo.

Please Note: All Keeper Chats are subject to change without notification. These are not touch or feeding encounters.

April 2024 Keeper Chats