There are tons of fun and educational experiences at the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden.  Between the animal shows, animal keeper chats, and animal interactions, there’s plenty to do, see, and learn about during your fun-filled day at the Zoo!  If you would like to build your own schedule, download our mobile app and plan your day!

Seasonal Suggestions


Memorial Day – Labor Day

Itinerary Option A

9:45 am – African Painted Dog Keeper Chat


In this chat, you’ll learn all about our female painted dog, Imara, and the species in general.  With their unique patterns and pack-oriented mindset, the painted dogs are a great animal to see up close.  Watch the keepers train Imara right up against the viewing glass so you can see all kinds of different tricks and abilities.  It’s a great way to start off your day at the Zoo, up close to these very active animals!

10 am – Bat-Eared Fox Keeper Chat

The brother and sister duo, George and Frankie, are very active during the chat as a keeper goes into the exhibit to demonstrate training methods and knowledge of the foxes.  With low level glass viewing and their activeness, you can see the bat-eared foxes play and train for treats.  The keeper even picks them up and brings them to the glass to feed them for a more personable and fun experience!

10:30 am – Kea Keeper Chat

Here you will find one of the smartest birds in the world showing off their intelligence.  Keepers hang pieces of watermelon on branches right in front of the glass so these parrot-like Keas can eat and interact right in front of you! They’re very curious birds as they’ll follow small children in front of the viewing glass.  The Cincinnati Zoo has the largest flock of Keas in North America, so you won’t want to miss these extremely endangered birds in action!

11:00 am – Asian Elephant Keeper Chat

encounters.jpg-226-1024x430At the Elephant Reserve, you can take a break and sit down in the shaded seating while learning some amazing facts.  You don’t really know how enormous elephants are until you see them up close.  The Zoo’s intelligent, emotional, and lovable female elephants are sure to make you want to learn more!

11:30 am – Sumatran Rhino Keeper Chat

The Cincinnati Zoo is home to the only Sumatran rhino in North America, being the male Harapan.  Listen to keepers talk about their devastating status of critically endangered and the Zoo’s conservation efforts to save these woolly red hair, forest-dwelling rhinos.  This is an educational and inspiring keeper chat. **No chats on Saturdays and Sundays

With plenty of time for lunch before round two of animal encounters, you’ll want to grab some lunch at the Base Camp Café.  With indoor and outdoor seating, meals for kids and adults alike, and a view of the Africa exhibit while you eat, you can’t go wrong here!

A family favorite is the Safari Train After eating lunch, the train station is right across from Base Camp Café, so having a ride around the center of the Zoo is a great way to relax while taking in more exhibits!

1:30 pm – Cougar Keeper Chat

Screen Shot 2014-08-13 at 12.43.38 PMThe two brothers, Tecumseh and Joseph, perform in front of a crowd for treats.  This operant conditioning, or positive reinforcement, keeper training allows the cougars to grow mentally and physically.  With amazing jumping, climbing, and agile abilities, you won’t want to miss the cougar brothers in action! **No chats on Thursdays or Fridays

2:00 pm – Sea Lion Keeper Chat 

Duke is the Zoo’s 26 year old California Sea Lion who is considered an “old man” at the Zoo.  Though very old and even blind, Duke can still swim at fast speeds through his pool and save up enough energy for some tricks he performs for fish treats.  Watch his keeper give him his daily check-up as he shows off to the crowd during his informative and very fun keeper chat!

2:15 pm – Otter Keeper Chat

Otters are incredibly talented and fun to watch.  The Zoo’s male otter, Nero, is also getting old at the age of 16.  He can still swim like a mini torpedo in his pool to catch little fish.  His keeper usually gives him a check-up while he’s in the water swimming to make sure he’s in good health.  Get right up to the glass viewing area to sea Nero swim inches away!

With enough time to have a snack in between encounters, the Safari Soft Serve ice cream station is a great way to take a break.  Tuskers is also right across the path to give you more snack options!

3:30 pm – African Lion Keeper Chat


This is a favorite among guests, as you get to see John and Imani up close against the glass.  You can’t imagine how big and majestic these lions are until you’re face-to-face with only a sheet of glass in between.  Watch John stand up and stretch to the top of the glass along with other tricks to get the full interactive experience!

Your day at the Zoo isn’t over yet! With many, many more exhibits to see and many, many more animals to interact with, there’s no shortage of fun and adventure at the Cincinnati Zoo!

Itinerary Option B

9:45 am – Macaw Keeper Chat

14431529782_7e7b859f78_zOne-on-one with the keeper, you will get the opportunity to see these beautiful, multi-colored birds up close and ask all the questions you could have.  Meet Mickey, the Scarlet macaw, and Azul, the Hyacinth Macaw, as they interact and munch on their daily morning food enrichment. If you’re lucky, this largest species of parrot might imitate some human sounds!

10:30 am – Manatee Keeper Chat

Take a seat in front of the Zoo’s female manatees Betsy and Abigail.  While cooling down inside this exhibit, learn all about the manatee release program that the Zoo takes part in while watching these two manatees swim around, eat, and play!

After just learning all about manatees, why not ride one?  The Conservation Carousel is a short walk from Manatee Springs and with 32 animals to choose from, kids love the opportunity to ride the different animals that they’ve seen on their Zoo trip!

11:30 am – Polar Bear Keeper Chat

Screen Shot 2014-08-13 at 12.36.05 PMA polar bear playing with toys? Watch this keeper chat and see the Zoo’s polar bears Berit and Little One do just that and more!  These marine mammals will be up close while they swim around and interact with each other while you learn all sorts of new polar bear facts.

All that fun and walking around has probably put you in the mood for some lunch!  Check out the Zoo’s award winning Base Camp Café for a selection of different meals from burgers and salads to weekday daily specials.  With great food and an outstanding view of the Zoo’s Africa exhibit, you can’t go wrong with this combination at the Base Camp Café!

With still time between lunch and the next animal encounter, relax in the 4D Special-FX Theater for a short show.  Immerse yourself in a cinematic adventure that combines 3D projection with thrilling sensory effects such as wind, mist, snow, scents, and more. This one-of-a-kind experience is filled with excitement, stunning visuals, and all sorts of surprises!

12:45 pm – Reptiles Keeper Chat

Lizards, snakes, alligators, and turtles steal the spotlight while keepers talk about these reptiles with an educational and interactive touch.  This is always a kid’s favorite, since you’re more than likely to get a chance to touch a snake or a lizard.

1:00 pm – Wings of Wonder Bird Show

Watch macaws, parrots, and eagles fly through the crowd and around the amphitheater along with a handful of other bird species call, mimic, and climb throughout the show.  This famous show is something you won’t want to miss on your Zoo adventure! **No shows on Mondays and Tuesdays

1:30 pm – Gorilla Keeper Chat

membershipWatch the gorilla family, led by silverback Jomo, climb through trees and swing on branches as they interact with one another and receive their afternoon snack.  Keepers do a great job informing the crowd about these endangered gorillas and all about their communication and interactions among their family.

2:15 pm – Red Panda Keeper Chat

Watch these cute, furry, and funny red pandas explore their exhibit.  Keepers feed and interact with the red pandas while spreading facts and busting myths about these extremely unique creatures.

With the Safari Train loading station just around the corner, it would be a perfect time to get a closer look and back views of the exhibits along the track of the Safari Train!

2:45 pm – African Animal Encounter

Running all day from 9:30 am – 3:00 pm, you can meet all different kinds of owls, turtles, snakes, flamingos, and other animals throughout the day. You never know what might be there, so going back spontaneously during the day will never let you down!

3:00 pm – Cheetah Keeper Chat


Watch as keepers feed the male brothers Bravo and Chance their afternoon snack right in front of the exhibit! This is a great opportunity to see the cheetahs up close and observe them sitting still as they eat.  The keepers are great at answering any questions you ask while tossing in interesting cheetah facts.  Did you know cheetahs have over 2,000 spots?

Your day at the Zoo isn’t over yet! With many, many more exhibits to see and many, many more animals to interact with, there’s no shortage of fun and adventure at the Cincinnati Zoo!

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Zoo Director Thane Maynard has given hundreds of tours of the zoo over his 37 years here.  So here are his tips on maximizing your visit to the park.

Cheetah Encounter


See the fastest runners in the world at their best.  Catch our Cheetah Encounter Show at the Cathryn Hilker Running Yard.

Wolf Woods


Perhaps the best kept secret at the zoo, our Mexican wolves are great animals with a great conservation story to tell.

Blakely's Barnyard bonanza

barnyard bonanza

This Children’s Zoo show is hilariously fun and active, particularly for young families.

Wings of Wonder Bird Show


The best bird show I have ever seen anywhere just completed its 31st season under trainer Gary Denzler.

World of the Insect

insect encounter

The Cincinnati Zoo’s Insectarium is home to the largest collection of living insects on Earth.

Gorilla World


Our western lowland gorillas are one of the best exhibits any time of day. Simply great.

Base Camp Café

Base Camp Cafe Cincinnati Zoo 1

Sharing a meal on the deck overlooking our new Africa exhibit is hands down the best dining experience this side of the Serengeti.  Mix it up and try a zoo salad.

Passenger Pigeon Memorial

Passenger Pigeon Memorial

This 140 year old building houses a tribute to “Martha,” the last of her kind.

Sumatran Rhino

Harapan - Kathy Newton

The Cincinnati Zoo is the only place outside of Indonesia where you can see the rarest large mammal in the world.