Behind the Scenes Tour Guidelines and Policies

Scheduling and Payment

  • All tours are scheduled on a first come, first served basis.

  • The Philadelphia Zoo reserves the right to cancel behind the scenes tours at any time, but please know that they take place rain or shine unless otherwise informed.

  • All tours are scheduled based on animal and keeper availability and cancellation for health and safety reasons are made at the sole discretion of the Philadelphia Zoo. If a tour is cancelled by the Philadelphia Zoo it will be rescheduled as soon as possible for no additional fee. In these instances the Zoo will contact you to rebook.
  • Payment for your behind the scenes experience is due upon the confirmation of your time slot availability by the Philadelphia Zoo.

  • Behind the scenes tours are non-refundable; however, if it becomes necessary to reschedule your tour for another date, you may do so by calling 48 hours before the tour.

Tour Restrictions

  • If the two people scheduled for the Behind the Scenes experience are under the age of 13, they must be accompanied by an adult.
  • Please be sure to mention any accessibility restrictions or special needs when booking your tour so that we can accommodate your entire group. Some behind-the-scenes areas are more accessible to visitors who require wheelchairs or other mobility devices. 
  • Penguin Behind the Scenes experiences are available only September through early June. Please contact for more information or to confirm availability.

At the Zoo

  • Due to the individuality of our animals, tour experiences may vary.

  • All tours will begin at the Shelly Administration Building.

  • Visitors are responsible for their own parking and admission costs for the Zoo, unless previously noted otherwise.

  • Additional guests must be paid for and approved by the Zoo prior to your tour.

  • Food and drink are not permitted in any behind the scenes areas.

  • Strollers may not be accommodated in behind the scenes areas.

  • Interaction with or touching of the animals without explicit direction from a member of the keeper staff is not permitted behind the scenes.

  • Behind the scenes experiences are guided walking tours and motorized transportation may not be available.

  • For safety reasons, service animals are not permitted on Behind the Scenes tours.

Frequently Asked Questions

Which adopted animals are available for behind the scenes visits?

The following adoptable animals are available for behind the scenes visits:

  • Alligator
  • Cheetah
  • First Niagara Big Cat Falls
  • Giraffe
  • Kangaroo
  • KidZooU
  • McNeil Avian Center
  • Okapi
  • Otters
  • Penguin
  • Tortoise
  • White rhinoceros

If your adopted animal does not have a behind the scenes experience, you can choose an experience from the list above.

Will our group be the only one on this tour?

We try to make this a private experience, but it is not guaranteed. 

When can I come for my tour?

Tours are given at specific times on specific days per animal and booked at least 48 hours in advance by calling 215-ADOPT-ME (215-236-7863) or by emailing

Behind-the-scenes experiences are based on animal and keeper availability.

What if it rains?

Many animal experiences are available rain or shine, but some tours may need to be rescheduled in case of inclement weather. Should a tour need to be rescheduled the Philadelphia Zoo will contact you in advance.

What is included in my package?

Benefits and experiences vary by donation level. Visit Adopt Benefits to view specific benefit levels.

Packages do not include parking or admission unless otherwise noted. If you're not already a member, a Zoo membership will cover both!

Can I buy this for a gift?

Yes! Adoption packages make great birthday and holiday gifts.

Are there any age restrictions?

Age restrictions are as follows:

  • Children under the age of 13 must be accompanied by one (1) adult whose behind the scenes tour is complimentary on behalf of the Zoo.

Are the exhibits handicap accessible?

The hippo, KidZooU, okapi, otter and McNeil Avian Center experiences are able to accommodate visitors who need assistance with mobility, but we do encourage you to contact the Zoo to confirm that we are able to provide the best possible experiences to everyone in your group.

How many people can I bring with me?

The adopt parent may bring one guest with them for the behind the scenes tours/animal experience. Additional guests can be accommodated for $150/person for one tour, or $450/person for 3 tour experiences ($450 level).

Most behind the scenes areas can accommodate up to six people. The penguin and alligator experiences can accommodate up to four.

What is the policy regarding groups?

Groups are welcome to adopt, but please note that the cost for a behind the scenes experience remains $150 for two people and only 6 people at a time may participate in a tour at once. All scheduling is pending animal and keeper availability.

Can I take pictures?

Yes! We encourage you to take photos and video of your tour.