Utica Zoo Animal Encounters

Have you ever wanted to get up close and personal with some of the animals at the Utica Zoo? With our Animal Encounter packages, you can now make your Zoo visit extraordinary!

Utica Zoo Sea Lion Encounter

A visitor throws another fish to a California Sea Lion at the Utica Zoo during an animal encounter.

Photo Packages: Looking to focus on your encounter and less on taking photos? Add-on a photo package with our staff photographer for photos of your animal encounter. Photo packages are $45 and must be booked at least 48 hours in advance. Subject to staff availability.

  • African Lions: Go inside the Lions Den for a behind the scenes look at our three African Lions. See how our keepers use specialized training to feed and keep the big cats healthy and happy! No personal cameras are allowed. $1,000 total for up to 5 people and zoo admission is included. ($750 of the $1,000 is a tax-deductible donation). One African Lion encounter is offered per week.
  • California Sea Lions: Go behind the scenes to visit our California Sea Lions! Feed them their favorite fish and learn to how to give them commands just like our Zoo Keepers!  $250 total for up to 5 people and zoo admission is included. Sea Lion encounters are available on Thursdays at 10:30 am.
  • Bactrian Camels: Get extra close to feed Najla and Furlow their favorite treats! You’ll be impressed by the size of our Bactrian Camels!  $75 total for up 5 people, and zoo admission is included.
  • Nigerian Dwarf Goats: Be on exhibit with our Nigerian Dwarf Goats as you go behind the fence to get up close and personal. $40 + admission for up to 5 people and zoo admission is included.
  • Red Pandas: Go on exhibit with our World Famous Red Pandas to hand feed them their favorite treat! $180 total for up to two people age 12+ and zoo admission is included. Only two red panda encounters are offered per week via the Species Survival Plan. Scheduling Red Panda encounters is dependent upon the animal care schedule and the requirements of the Species Survival Plan. 
  • Ambassador Animals: Whether you have just been dying to touch a chinchilla, see an owl up close, or want to surprise a friend or family member with a unique gift – an ambassador animal meet and greet is the perfect thing to add to your zoo visit! Small groups of 8 or less will get to interact with up to three (3) of our ambassador animals, with an included unique and educational talk by a zoo educator about each animal. $30 + admission fee for one animal interaction + $15 for each additional animal (up to 2 can be added, for total of 3 animals). Please contact Nicolette Hajdasz to schedule your Ambassador Animal Encounter: Nicolette@uticazoo.org or call 315-738-0472 ext. 34

Email encounters@uticazoo.org for availability and booking. Guests must book their encounters at least one week in advance and a non-refundable deposit is required.  Animal Encounters last approximately 30 minutes and are overseen by a member of our Animal Care Staff who can answer all of your questions. 

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