Friends of the Henry Vilas Zoo
Friends of the Henry Vilas Zoo

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Friends of the Henry Vilas Zoo
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606 S. Randall Ave.
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Arts, Culture, & Entertainment
kids, school trips, monkeys, lions, Arts, Culture, & Entertainment Brent Walter
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From orangutans and alligators to bison, black bears, polar bears and grizzlies to Bactrian camels; from chimps to giraffes and emu to creatures you may have never seen before, a diverse population of animals awaits you... Here at the Henry Vilas Zoo there are more interesting animals than you can imagine, and you can see them close up! FREE: 9:30am - 5pm every day.

Parents, are you looking for kids' activities? Consider the spring break conservation programs twice a day, or summer zoo school. Teachers, how about a fun field trip for geography or science? Come see the geography, entomology, ornithology and primatology at the Henry Vilas Zoo! Presentations with live animals and zoology experts make learning exciting. For a sample of animal-related activities and games see
Almost everything on the grounds of the Zoo has been built with local support and hard working volunteers. You can rent a tent for a party or celebration of any kind, with picnic tables and meeting spaces to handle hundreds of guests. They can visit our locally constructed tree house or playground, and eat great food provided by Dane Buy Local member Kitchen Hearth. While it's true our residents may have come from all around the world, they enjoy the local scenery (that's you!) and eat local food every single day.

Annual events include our annual Feast with the Beasts, Zoo Run Run, Halloween at the Zoo and lot's of other community activities. Come meet your friendly neighborhood primate!
On June 30, 1904, Col. William F. and Anna M. Vilas gave a large tract of land to the Madison Park and Pleasure Drive Association in memory of their son, Henry, who died at a young age. In 1911, the first animal exhibits were created, representing the start of the Henry Vilas Zoo. The Henry Vilas Park Zoological Society was organized in 1914. The Vilas Family wanted the park always to be admission free. As the zoo developed within the park, it too remained free. Our zoo is one of only a few American Zoological Associated zoos with free admission in the entire country.

In 1983, the Zoo was identified as a regional resource that could be better served by county operations, so 28 acres was separated from 50-acre city-owned park and a County Zoo Commission was formed to operate the zoo. The City of Madison contributes 20 percent.
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