VIP Private Tours – 2023
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.
Click the Bar Below for Details About our Private Tours
Private and Public Tours are essentially the same except that private tour buyers choose the date for their programs and control the guest list.
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.
Private Tour Details
These tours are available throughout the week, on a date selected by the buyer. Finalized dates require approval from the Zoo’s Animal Section.
North Carolina Zoo Society members pay $535 for a private tour. The fee admits up to six guests to the tour. (Please note that Bison tours accept only four people.) Non-members pay $595 and receive an annual Family or Grandparent Membership to the Society.
Zoo Society memberships provide free Zoo admission for a year and other benefits. Individuals not covered by the membership must buy a Zoo admission ticket to enter the Zoo.
Tour Times and Meeting Places
- 10:00 a.m. – Avian Prop (meet at Stedman Education Center)
- 10:45 a.m. – Rhino (meet at Stedman Education Center)
- 1:15 p.m. – Elephant (meet at Stedman Education Center); Gorilla (meet at Gorilla Exhibit near AirHike)
- 1:30 p.m. – Black Bear and Grizzly Bear (meet at Black Bear Exhibit); Puffins & Polar Bears (meet at Porcupine Exhibit); Bison & Elk Safari (meet at Grizzly Bear Exhibit)
- 3:00 p.m. – Chimpanzee (meet at lower viewing area of Chimpanzee Exhibit)
- 4:15 p.m. – March 2023 Desert (meet at Desert Exhibit entrance)
- 5:30 p.m. – Giraffe (meet at Giraffe Overlook #2); July/August/September 2023 Desert (meet at Desert Exhibit entrance)
Maximum Group Sizes
- 4 – Bison & Elk Safari
- 6 – all other private tours
- Five (5) years old – Desert; Puffins & Polar Bears (Family)
- Six (6) years old – Giraffe
- Eight (8) years old – Bison & Elk Safari; Gorilla; Rhino
- Ten (10) years old – Avian Prop; Black Bear & Grizzly Bear
- 12 years old – Chimpanzee; Elephant; Puffins & Polar Bears (Adult)
Not all tours are ADA Accessible. Tours that are not are clearly marked under each of the tour pictures. Some ADA Accessible tours may offer some challenges to people with limited mobility. Please let us know of any mobility concerns you have so that we can talk to you about making adjustments to meet the needs of your party.
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 work diligently to keep everyone safe and our animals comfortable and stress-free.
* 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.