VIP Private Tours – 2022

About Private Tours

We organize our public and private VIP Tours to provide exciting, fun, and educational behind-the-scenes experiences for our guests. Private tours are nearly identical to public tours: both last about an hour, visit the same locations, and take guests close to the Zoo’s animals and their keepers.

How Public and Private Tours Differ

All public tours take place on a Saturday or a Wednesday and may admit up to 16 people for a tour.

Private tours are scheduled on a date chosen by the buyer and may be scheduled for any day of the week. A private tour may include up to six people—all of whom attend at the buyer’s discretion. Other than those two differences, they are essentially the same as their public tour counterparts.

Please be sure to confirm details about your private tour—what time the tour begins, where to meet before the tour, minimum ages for children, and so on—before you purchase. To do so, simply check the public tour information for the species you wish to see.

Our Commitment to Safety

To ensure the safety of our guests and staff, we limit the number of people attending different tours and have minimum age requirements for children to attend. Minimum ages vary from 5 years to 12 years, depending on the tour location. Age limits are noted on tour descriptions.

To protect your health and the health of the Zoo’s animals and staff, tour patrons may be required to wear protective equipment behind the scenes. Currently, all tour patrons must follow strict COVID protocols, including wearing masks and, at times, gloves during behind-the-scenes tours. You can download a PDF of our most Current COVID-19 guidelines here.

If you are unable to wear a mask for any reason, we will give you the option to postpone your tour until COVID protocols are lifted or to receive a full refund for your purchase.

Private Tour Details

As noted above, private tours are scheduled on a date chosen by the buyer and may be scheduled for any day of the week. Also, a private tour may include a maximum of six people (four people for the Bison & Elk Safari). Other than those two differences, private tours are essentially the same as their public tour counterparts.

Please be sure to confirm details about your private tour—what time the tour begins, where to meet before the tour, minimum ages for children, and so on—before you purchase. To do so, simply check the public tour information for the species you wish to see, or review the information below.

Private Tour Details

Tour Dates
Any day of the week; scheduled in cooperation with NC Zoo Society

Tour Times and Meeting Places

  • 9:15 a.m. – Aviary (meet at Stedman Education Center)
  • 9:30 a.m. – Bird Training & Encounter (meet at Stedman Education Center)
  • 10:30 a.m. – Rhino (meet at Stedman Education Center)
  • 1:15 p.m. – Elephant (meet at Stedman Education Center); Gorilla (meet at big rock near Gorilla Exhibit)
  • 1:30 p.m. – Black Bear (meet at Black Bear Exhibit); Desert (meet at Desert Exhibit entrance); Polar Bear (meet at Rocky Coast Exhibit); Bison & Elk Safari (meet at Grizzly Bear Exhibit)
  • 3:00 p.m. – Chimpanzee (meet at Chimpanzee Exhibit)
  • 5:30 p.m. – Giraffe (meet at lower Giraffe viewing area)

Maximum Group Sizes

  • 4 – Bison & Elk Safari
  • 6 – all other private tours

Minimum Ages

  • 5 years old – Desert; Polar Bear (Family)
  • 6 years old – Giraffe
  • 8 years old – Bison & Elk Safari; Gorilla; Rhino
  • 10 years old – Aviary; Bird Training & Encounter
  • 11 years old – Black Bear
  • 12 years old – Chimpanzee; Elephant; Polar Bear (Adult)

ADA Status
All tours are ADA Accessible – but please let us know of any mobility concerns among your group

Safety Note
Guests may not approach or try to touch any of the zoo’s animals unless invited to do so by an animal keeper. Guests are required to remain at a safe distance from the animals. When animals are fed or touched as part of a tour, guides and keepers will explain how this can be done safely and will monitor guests as they interact with the animals. We want to do all we can to keeper everyone safe and to keep our animals comfortable and stress-free.

Currently Available Private VIP Tours


  • Early Bird Tour
    Join us for an in-depth Aviary tour before it opens to the public.
    • Children must be at least 10 years old to attend.
    ADA accessible

  • Black Bear
    New in 2022! A behind-the- scenes look at Black Bear care at the Zoo.
    • Children must be at least 11 years old to attend.
    ADA accessible
  • Chimps in
    Training
    Engaging Chimps with training and enrichment.
    • Children must be at least 12 years old to attend.
    ADA accessible – alert us to mobility concerns
  • An In-Depth Look at the Desert
    Examine the desert’s secrets after it closes to the public.
    • Children must be at least 5 years old to attend.
    ADA accessible
  • Elephants
    Up Close
    See how the keepers care for the elephants.
    • Children must be at least 12 years old to attend.
    ADA accessible – alert us about mobility concerns
  • Meet and Feed the Giraffes
    Join a keeper to feed the giraffes and meet the Red River Hogs.
    • Children must be at least 6 years old to attend.
    ADA accessible
  • Keys to Keeping a Troop Healthy
    Watch how gorillas learn to help take care of their health.
    • Children must be at least 8 years old.
    ADA accessible – alert us to mobility concerns
  • Polar Bears & Puffins (Adults)
    Details and close-up views of what it takes to care for a Polar Bear.
    • Children must be at least 12 years old to attend.
    ADA accessible – alert us to mobility concerns
  • Polar Bears & Puffins (Family)
    A made-for-youngsters program about caring for puffins and bears.
    • Children must be at least 5 years old to attend.
    ADA accessible – alert us to mobility concerns
  • Rhinos – Close
    Enough to Touch
    Reach out and touch a rhino behind the scenes.
    • Children must be at least 8 years old to attend.
    ADA accessible
  • Bird Training
    and Encounter
    Visit the bird training and propagation area (offered as a private tour only*).
    • Children must be at least 10 years old to attend.
    ADA accessible
  • Bison & Elk
    Safari For Four
    See the animals from the back of a truck (offered as a private tour only*).
    • Children must be at least 12 years old to attend.
    ADA accessible

* This tour does not have a public tour counterpart—it is offered as a private tour only. To learn more about this private-only tour, please click the appropriate “Learn More! button and see the bottom of the resulting product page.