PLAN YOUR PROGRAM

What time of year can I book a program?

  • Virtual Zoo programs are available year-round. Currently, we are setting booking preference for Thursdays and Fridays, but may be able to accommodate requests other days.
  • Zoo School programs are available during the school year (typically Sept. – middle of June) and take place between 9:30am-4pm.
  • Traveling Zoo programs are available year-round. The Traveling Zoo can work with your schedule, but typically operates between 9am-4pm. After hours programs are available upon request. [NOTE: due to COVID-19 protocols, we are not traveling off site]
  • Group Visits are offered year-round, but are the only on-site programs we offer during the summer (June-August). You have three options to choose from for camps, schools and other groups to visit the zoo between 10am-4pm:
    1. 30 Minute Zoo Tour: Groups of 15+ can schedule a 30 minute tour of the zoo. Take a guided tour through the zoo with an educator or zoo docent who will share facts, stories and information about our animals. Price is per person, and includes group admission. Please note there is a $100 minimum for booking a guided tour.
    2. Live animal meet & greet: Groups of 15+ can schedule a live animal meet & greet for their trip to the zoo. This will include meeting three (3) of our zoo program animals up close. Program delivered by a zoo educator or volunteer. Price is per person, and includes group admission. Please note there is a $100 minimum for booking a meet and greet.
    3. Tour + Live Animal Meet & Greet: Groups of 15+ can schedule a 30 minute tour of the zoo as well as a live animal meet & greet. Meet three (3) program animals up close and take a guided tour (group size limited to max 35 participants at a time) through the zoo with an educator or zoo volunteer who will share facts, stories and information about our animals during your visit. Price is per person, and includes group admission. Please note there is a $100 minimum for booking a guided tour

How much time should I allot for a zoo program?

  • Zoo School Programs: Please refer to our Zoo School Visits section for program length, as time is dependent upon on program topic. Depending on the size of your group, you may choose to add a zoo tour (min 15, max 35 per tour time slot). Allowing time for bus unloading and loading, as well as visits to the petting zoo yard, gift shop and bathrooms, and lunch, you should typically plan for at least 2-3 hours.
  • Traveling Zoo: programs are typically 30-50 minutes, depending on your group’s age. Walk by programs are booked by the first hour, than each additional 30  minutes after that.
  • Group Programs: Live Animal Encounters or Tours are 30 minute programs, or 1 hour if combining both options.

How much do school or group programs cost?

  • Most field trip programs start at $7-8/person. This fee includes zoo admission.
  • Please check out our for the most up to date prices for formal programs, or visit our Group Visits page for informal programs or general group admission rates.

How do I book a program? How is payment handled?

For a Group Visits:

  • Let us know you’re coming by filling out our Group Visit Form. This form will allow you to contact us with your group’s information for a general zoo visit, or start the process to register your group for a program like a Live Animal Encounter.
  • Or, your group can simply pay at the front gates when they arrive (only use this option if you do NOT want a program).

For a Zoo School 

  • Step 1: Complete Group Visit Registration Form
  • Step 2: Someone from the Education Department will check program and staff availability and get back to you within two weeks of your registration. If you do not hear back after this time, please email us at Education@BrandywineZoo.org
  • Step 3: You will receive a contract with your program date (based on availability) within two weeks of your program registration submission. If you have not received a confirmation after this time, please email us.
  • Step 4: Submit your 50% deposit for your visit to the Brandywine Zoo via the link in your contract or by mailing to the below address with a copy of your contract. Zoo School reservations are not considered complete until we receive your 50% deposit for your program. *Note that a 15 person or $100 minimum is required for all on-site programs.*

For a Traveling Zoo

  • Step 1: Complete Traveling Zoo Registration Form 
  • Step 2: Someone from the Education Department will check program and staff availability and get back to you within two weeks of your registration. If you do not hear back after this time, please email us at Education@BrandywineZoo.org
  • Step 3: You will receive a contract with your program date (based on availability) within two weeks of your program registration submission. If you have not received a confirmation after this time, please email us.
  • Step 4: Submit your payment in advance of your Traveling Zoo program date. Programs are not considered booked until they are paid in full.

What animals will we meet during the program?

Animals will vary by program, and may change depending on theme of the program. We have education Ambassador Animals from a variety of taxa, including mammals, reptiles, amphibians and invertebrates, with most programs receiving a visit from 2-4 animals. Ambassador Animals depend upon the program chosen and animal availability. Specific requests may be made, but ultimately the Zoo has final choice on which animals will be used.


Plan Your Traveling Zoo Visit

Is there a maximum to the number of participants we can have?

Yes, due to the nature of our programs, there are limitations for the audience size for our outreach programs.

  • Storybook programs: these programs are limited to 35 participants in order to insure everyone’s ability to appropriately see and participate.
  • Standard programs, the maximum audience size is 50 students
  • Assembly programs the maximum is 200. Please note that not all standard programs may be appropriate as an assembly program.
  • Zoo staff will work with you to help select the best program for your needs.

What information do I need to provide the Zoo for my upcoming Traveling Zoo visit?

In addition to the information provided on the registration form, when booking your program, please provide zoo staff with additional detailed information about your site. This includes:

  • Physical address or GPS coordinates where the program will be held (this is sometimes different than billing addresses we’re provided)
  • What entrance should our staff use while unloading program materials and animals
  • Where the zoo vehicle can be parked (we ask for parking as close as possible for easy loading and unloading of animals)
  • Contact person and direct phone numbers for the day-of your program

What do I need to provide at my site for the Traveling Zoo?

Depending on the program, specific details may vary. In general, we ask to be provided:

  • A 4-6′ table which can be placed near a wall or backdrop and only approachable from one side by the public
  • If outdoors, we need to be placed in a shaded or covered area. We cannot bring animals to a site where they will be in direct sunlight.

Policies

Cancellation Policy

The primary contact person will notify the Brandywine Zoo in writing at least 48 hours in advance in the event that a program must be cancelled.

  • Cancellations received more than 2 weeks before selected program date will be given a refund and are subject to a $25 administrative fee.
  • A $25 administrative cancellation fee will be applied for programs cancelled with less than 48 hours notice AND 50% of the program fee will be retained.
  • Programs rescheduled less than two weeks from the program date are subject to a $25 administrative fee.

We will work with you to reschedule your program to another date as much as possible. Multiple reschedulings may be subject to an administrative fee.

Program Confirmation and Payment Policy

Once you submit your program registration form, a zoo educator will issue you a contract within two weeks of your submission.

Submit payment and return a signed copy of your contract to the Brandywine Zoo Education Department, where you will then receive confirmation of payment receipt from the Zoo.

  • Traveling Zoo and Virtual Programs:  Payment must be received in full by the payment due date on your contract, prior to the start of your program.
  • Zoo School: All Zoo School programs require a 50% deposit for your program to reserve your date. Some groups choose to pay their balance in full prior to their visit, while others will settle the balance, charged per person, the day of their program. Any remaining balance is due the day of your program.

How is payment handled?

  • Payment can be made using the credit card link on your contract, or by submitting a check, made payable to the Delaware Zoological Society.
  • Please fax a signed contract when paying by credit card or include a signed copy of your contract when mailing checks.

Late Policy

Due to a very full programming schedule, Zoo School programs will not be extended for late-arriving field trip groups beyond the scheduled end time. Groups arriving later than 15 minutes after original scheduled start time are subject to program cancellation with no refunds.

Please plan on arriving 20-30 minutes prior to the start of your program to allow time for parking, disembarking from the bus, and check-in and balance settlement, and walking to your final destination for your program.

  • Staff will make every attempt to cover as much material as possible in the time available.
  • Please obtain information on how to locate the Zoo and the specific meeting location for your group prior to your visit. Refer to the zoo map or find directions to the zoo on our website.

Plan your trip to the zoo

What are the Zoo's hours?

The Brandywine Zoo is open 364 days a year from 10am – 4pm. Brandywine Park is open dawn until dusk. The Zoo is closed on Christmas Day. Check out our visitor information page for more detailed information.

How many chaperones do I need with my group?

We recommend one adult for every 5 students PreK-Grade 2, and one adult for every 10 students grades 3-12 is recommended. Tour groups get one free teacher per class.

Guidelines for Chaperones

  • Chaperones must be 21 or older
  • Chaperones and siblings must pay the program fee and cannot use their Zoo membership for free admission to school and group programs.
  • Middle and High School students must be attended by chaperones. Unattended students will be escorted to the main gate to wait for their teacher.
  • Teachers should set clear expectations about personal conduct for both students and chaperones and then model this conduct throughout the trip.
  • During formal presentations, chaperones should remain as attentive, quiet and engaged as the students. Teacher should always provide these expectations in writing to chaperones and reinforce them throughout the field experience.
  • Chaperones must stay with their students during the entire zoo visit and monitor the group’s conduct at all times.

What time should we arrive?

You should plan to arrive 15 – 20 minutes before your program time to allow for bus unloading time.

How much time should we plan on for a Zoo field trip?

On top of the 20-30 minutes for bus unloading, check-in, and walking to your program area, you will want to accommodate for your program(s), typically 30 minutes per program (some may run longer). We recommend giving students another hour to explore the zoo with their chaperones. Check out our daily schedule and upcoming events here for other offerings that may be happening during your visit, including Keeper Talks, Creature Features, Live Animal Shows, or other special events or programming.

Extend your visit by:

  • Having lunch in the beautiful Brandywine Park, just below the zoo, where there are plenty of picnic tables.
  • Planning time to explore the Josephine Gardens, which are adjacent to the zoo.
  • Walk along the Brandywine River to the Northern Delaware Greenway Trail, or complete a circuit around the river by crossing bridges and backtracking along the opposite bank.
  • Visit the 18th Street Playground, across the street from Warner Elementary.
  • Visit the Sugar Bowl, constructed in 1895 and recently restored. The Sugar Bowl is an observatory that sits on a cliff-face above the Zoo and offers  picturesque views of the Brandywine River. Today, the observatory has been restored and is used for community events and free summer concerts. Stop by to see the view, watch migrating birds, or to enjoy a concert. Fun Fact: At one time, the historic entrance to the zoo was adjacent to the Sugar Bowl!
  • A short 5 minute bus ride will take you to Can-Do Playground at Alapocas Run State Park.

Where do we go when we arrive?

Groups that have booked a Zoo School program should report to the main entrance of the zoo unless otherwise directed. Please see the map of the zoo for locations of Education Building, admissions gate and school bus parking and drop-off areas.

Late Arrivals: Please review our late arrival policy and plan accordingly to arrive on time for your program.

Where should buses park?

School buses should park in the lot along the Brandywine River. Please refer divers to the map of the zoo when giving them directions. Parking is free in Brandywine Park.

Do bus drivers have to pay to enter the zoo?

Yes. Either their ticket must be purchased prior to entrance with the rest of the group or at the ticket window upon arrival.

What if parents are driving separately and meeting us at the zoo?

We are thrilled that parents are coming along on your field trip! Please inform parents attending programs that they are responsible for paying the program fee, and will not be permitted to participate with just regular zoo admission or the use of their Zoo membership.

Please encourage parents to arrive in advance of the bus rather than at the same time. Parents can park in the lot along the Brandywine River, which is where the school buses will be parking. By arriving early, they will have the opportunity to park and identify the school bus with their student. We additionally suggest that you share cell phone numbers, or if that is not possible, arrange a second meeting site and time if you happen to miss each other upon arrival.

Can we eat lunch at the zoo?

You may bring your own lunch or snacks into the zoo. However, there is limited seating for large groups inside the zoo. Seating cannot be reserved for any group, and unfortunately we do not have any indoor space to accommodate groups for lunch. We do not have any lockers or lunch storage space available, so you may want to make arrangements to leave lunches on your school bus.

  • Brandywine Park is available right outside the main zoo gate; it offers several public picnic tables for your group to eat lunch. Brandywine Park is a carry in/carry-out park; you will need to provide your own trash bags. Please suggest to the students that they pack lunches in reusable containers to minimize waste.
  • Our concession stand offers a variety of lunch options.
  • There is also a covered pavilion near the Education Building parking lot that may be reserved. You can contact Wilmington State Parks at 302-577-7020 to make your reservations.

What should I do if a child gets separated from our group?

Please proceed immediately to the Admissions Gate or Administrative office (next to concessions), where Brandywine Zoo staff will assist you in reuniting your group. For younger children, attaching school name and contact information to a shirt or nametag can be helpful. We discourage the inclusion of children’s personal information or names for their own protection.

Is there a gift shop?

Our gift shop, Zootique, is located at the front gates. If you would like to schedule a trip to the gift shop we ask that you plan that for after your on-site program and regulate your students entering to 10 at a time.

Is there a maximum to the number of participants we can have?

Yes, due to the size of our classroom or outdoor education pavilion, there is a limit to the size of groups we can accommodate at any one time.

  • Our classroom can accommodate about 60 students comfortably, therefore this is the limit on group size for classroom lessons. Groups of 60 or less can also add a tour to their classroom lesson.
  • Our outdoor pavilion can accommodate 30 participants. This pavilion is only used for Animal Encounters on weekdays June-August. Groups of 35 or less can add a tour to their Animal Encounter. Larger groups must book back to back programs.
  • For groups of 60 or more, we can offer consecutive classroom lessons back to back, while the rest of your group explores the zoo on their own. Unfortunately, we cannot offer guided tours for groups larger than 35 students simultaneously. If you are interested in adding on a guided tour to your group program, please contact us with the size of your group and we will do our best to try to accommodate with appropriate staffing or scheduling, but flexibility may be necessary to accommodate your large group.
  • If your group wants a Zoo Tour-only, we require tour group sizes to be 35 participants or less per guide, and can accommodate at most 3 simultaneous group tours at once. Larger groups will have to book back-to-back programs.

Plan your virtual zoo program

Best Practices and Planning Document

Download our Virtual Zoo FAQ and Best Practices document, which will help you prepare for your upcoming virtual program with the Brandywine Zoo!