Behind-the-Scenes Tours

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Behind-the-Scenes Tours

Looking for a unique gift? Gift Certificates for future dates are available!
See below for the Gift Certificate form.

Have you ever wondered what it is like to hand-feed an okapi? Or get up close with an alligator? Now is your chance! The Behind-the-Scenes Tour program takes guests one step closer to the animals at the Sacramento Zoo. Get up close to the animals, visit behind-the-scenes areas not accessible to the general public, receive a guided walking tour from one of our educators and see what goes into the incredible care the animals receive every day.

Current Tours Available (see below for details): Okapi, Hooves & Horns, African Spur-thighed Tortoise, and Animal Ambassadors Experience

All tours are guided walking tours. Please read the safety information specific to each program on the ticketing purchase page. Zoo admission is not included. Prices of tours do not include admission into the zoo. You may purchase zoo tickets online. Members get in free with a current membership, but must reserve their tickets. We recommend arriving at the zoo early to explore before your tour as we will not be visiting all areas of the zoo.

Snow leopard with painted cardboard box enrichment

Tour Gift Certificates

Looking for an amazing gift? We now have gift certificates for Behind-the-Scenes Tours! You can purchase a gift certificate for a specific tour to send your lucky recipient on an exclusive zoo adventure. Can’t decide on the perfect tour? Purchase a gift certificate for any amount instead to let your recipient choose which tour they’d like to do.

When you fill out and send the attached form, you will be contacted by a tour specialist to pay over the phone and customize your gift certificate. Your recipient will need to call to redeem their gift and schedule their tour. Please make sure that your recipient meets all of the requirements for the tour you intend to gift! Requirements for each tour can be found in the tour description. Tour gift certificate requests may take up to four days to process.


Available tours


Come and meet some of the newest additions to Sacramento Zoo – okapi! Venture behind the scenes to view our new okapi barn and in keeper-only areas around the exhibit where you can come nose-to-nose with one of our males and even have a chance to hand-feed them! Learn about what it takes to care for these mysterious animals and what life is like for their wild counterparts.

  • Daily at 9:30 am
  • For ages 5 and older*
  • 45 to 60 minutes
  • $200 per person

Register for the okapi tour


hooves and Horns

The animals roaming the savanna and forests of Africa are beautiful and fascinating creatures. This tour will take you behind the scenes of our hoofstock area to talk about the care and keeping of giraffes, zebras, and ostriches here at the zoo. You will get a guided tour of the area from a zoo expert. An exciting stop along the way will be with our Grevy’s zebra which is an endangered species. Come nose-to-beak with our ostriches and feed them a snack! See how you measure up next to a giraffe. This is a tour you will not soon forget!

  • Daily at 10:45 am
  • 45 to 60 minutes 
  • For ages 3 and older*
  • $65 per person

Register for the Hooves and Horns Tour


Spur thighed tortoise


Seasonal: Check back next Spring!

Come face-to-face with some of our largest reptiles here at the zoo – the spur-thighed tortoises! This tour will take you into the tortoise exhibit right next to the giraffe yard to meet these friendly giants. You will get to feel their tough shells and even offer them a snack if they are hungry!

  • Daily at 1:00 pm
  • For ages 5 and older*
  • 30 minutes
  • $45 per person

Tour may be cancelled in inclement weather

Seasonal: Check back next Spring!

Register for the African Spur-thighed Tortoise tour



collage of photos of CA king snake, hedgehog, and burrowing owl

Animal ambassadors experience

Looking for a personal animal experience when you visit the zoo? Whether you are a mammal, bird or reptile person we have a fun, interactive encounter for you! You will get the zoo’s animal amphitheater all to yourself while you get your up-close and personal experience with some of our beloved animal ambassadors. Help with a training session, feed them a snack, give them a bath or even give them some friendly scratches. And of course, you will get to take pictures with your new furry, feathered or scaly friends!

  • Daily at 10 am to 3 pm on the hour
    (10 am, 11 am, 1 pm, 2 pm & 3 pm)
  • For ages 2 and older
  • $45 per person
  • 20 minutes with two animals
    • Mammals: Armadillo, hedgehog, tenrec
    • Reptiles:  Desert tortoise, pancake tortoise, box turtle, spiny-tailed lizard, skink, California king snake, mountain king snake, gopher snake, Colombian boa or sand boa
    • Birds: Blue and gold macaw, thick-billed parrot, eclectus parrot, great horned owl, or Kookaburra


*Same day available not guaranteed, prefer at least 24-hour advance notice
*For additional time and/or animals please contact the Interpretive Center at 916-808-5884 or via email.
*This experience does not go behind the scenes of any area



Seasonal: Check back next Spring!

Come celebrate a conservation success story with the American alligator! Explore the different personalities of the alligators, walk along the alligator deck, and even participate in a feeding session with the keepers!

This tour is seasonal, weather-dependent and currently unavailable for online bookings. Contact the Education department to inquire about availability.

Currently the best days to view the large alligators eating are Monday and Thursday.

  • Daily at 1:50 pm
  • For ages 5 and older*
  • 45 to 60 minutes
  • $120 per person

Seasonal: Check back next Spring!

Important tour information

Animal welfare is our first priority and all Behind-the-Scenes Tours are dependent on animal participation. If any tour needs to be cancelled based on animal needs, you will be issued a full refund or offered another tour option if available.

  • Any program involving our resident animals is subject to change or cancellation based on the animal’s needs. However, every effort will be made to offer alternate areas or reschedule experiences.
  • Closed-toe shoes are highly recommended for all tours but required on African spur-thigh tortoise tour. Some surfaces in behind-the-scenes animal and keeper areas may be wet or uneven, and you may be walking through a variety of substrate such as dirt, pebbles or bark chips. For animal health and safety, you may be asked to dip the soles of your shoes into a cleansing solution before entering behind-the-scenes area.
  • All tours require guests and staff to wear PPE (personal protective equipment). This is to protect the animals, staff and guests during the tour. Some diseases can be spread between humans and certain animal species. Face masks are required to be worn for the entire duration of the tour. Gloves will be required for any feeding or touching of animals (will be provided by your guide).
  • If you have had a cold, flu, fever, fatigue, dry cough or difficult breathing in the past two weeks, please let staff know. Some tours will need to be rescheduled due to potential interference in animal safety.
  • Tours have a maximum number of guests: four or six people from the same household, depending on the tour. If you would like to have more guests then the maximum allowed, please contact the Education department.
  • *Age requirements are set for safety during the tour. However, any child under the age of 1 year is welcome to join for free as long as they are secured in a wrap or carrier on an adult. Please note that any loud noises may startle the animals making them less likely to participate.

Behind-the-Scenes Tours are a guided walking experience. Some tours require guests to walk long distances, over uneven terrain, up elevations or through tight spaces. Certain encounters are accessible for guests using wheelchairs; these include Hooves & Horns and Okapi. Please advise staff of any disabilities, special needs, medical conditions or any other concerns you may have that could prevent you from fully participating in the experience.

Please note:

  • Service animals are not permitted on any Behind-the-Scenes Tours.

Behind-the-Scenes Tours will occur rain or shine. These tours are primarily outdoors; please dress for the weather and for walking during your tour. Tours will take place outdoors and on unpaved paths which may include walking through mud and puddles. If the Sacramento Zoo has to cancel tours due to extreme weather or animal needs, a full refund will be issued.


end of year appeal enrichment at the sac zoo with a lion, anteater, and red panda

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