Educational Programs

The Bergen County Zoo offers education programs for everyone:

• Children and adults
• Individuals and groups
• At the zoo or at your facility
A variety of programs are offered throughout the year. While a visit to the zoo is always fun and educational in its own right, you can enhance your visit with an education program.

Spring Celebration 2019
Park Permits

All groups of 25 or more visiting Van Saun Park / The Bergen County Zoo must have a Park Use Permit. If you reserve an Education Program through the zoo's Education Department, or reserve space for your group in the zoo's special / seasonal exhibit, a Park Use Permit will be issued automatically. 
If your group does not have a program / special exhibit reserved, you must call the Parks Department at 201-336-7261 to have a Park Use Permit issued.
Groups / Summer Camp

Science 101 2018

Please contact the Education Department at 201-634-3100, ext(s) 3125 & 3124 for more information about college groups.
Summer Camps / Recreation Groups

All groups of 10 or more visiting Van Saun Park / The Bergen County Zoo must have a Park Use Permit. 
Unfortunately, the zoo is not able to offer education programs to camp groups in the summer, as our educators are busy conducting our own Zoo Camp program. You must call the Parks Department at 201-336-7261 to have a Park Use Permit issued.
Program Fees

All fees are per class. Each class consists of approximately 25 students.
In-Zoo Program

• Bergen County groups: $50 per class
• Out-of-county groups: $100 per class
Admission Fee

There is an admission fee to the Bergen County Zoo daily from May - October. The admission fee will be waived for children and up to three adults per class that have reserved an education program through the Education Department. Additional adults must pay the admission fee, even if they are coming with a registered group.
Outreach Program

• Bergen County groups:
◦ $100 for one class
◦ $50 for additional classes on the same visit
• Out-of-county groups: outreach programs not available
Programs for Adults

Who Can Attend Adult Programs

The zoo is not just for kids. Join us to learn about animals and help with special conservation efforts in one of our adult-only programs. Adult programs are for teens 15 years old and over and all adults. Teens must be accompanied by another registered adult. For more information, please contact 201-634-3100 ext. 3125.

Horseshoe Crab Census

Each spring, the zoo travels to Cape May to observe horseshoe crabs' annual mating ritual - and to participate in an organized horseshoe crab census. This is a two-part program; you may register for the zoo class, the field component, or both.

Come to the zoo to learn all about these incredible creatures, their ecological significance, and participate in a mock horseshoe crab census. For those wishing to "get their feet wet" and learn more, join us again on a May or June weekend in Cape May to count horseshoe crabs for the census and observe the world-famous shore bird migration.


The zoo has recently started participating in amphibian field work; come learn how we monitor the frog populations in Van Saun Park, and learn how you can help us monitor our frogs, or monitor the frogs in your own backyard.

This program consists of a classroom portion and a walk into the park. Great activity for families, individuals, and civic / scout groups.

Discovery Center

The zoo's Education / Discovery Center is open every day from 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. Stop inside to discover what awaits you. From the marine touch tank, to the computer kiosk games, to nature videos in our mini theater, the Discovery Center is a great place to take a break and get in out of the cold, heat or rain. Groups must be chaperoned. 

Nursing Home / Senior Center Programs

Would you like a zoo animal to visit your residents / clients every month? Consider our Animal Encounters program. Teams of specially-trained volunteers travel to nursing homes throughout Bergen County to spread a little sunshine with a special animal visitor. We currently have 23 facilities enrolled in this program, which is offered free of charge to Bergen County nursing homes / long-term care facilities. 
Call our volunteer coordinator at 201-634-3100, ext. 3124 to find out about the availability of having an animal encounters team come to you.

Zoo Educator

Looking for something more in-depth? Schedule a one-time visit with a zoo educator to talk to you about the history of the zoo, what we're doing now, and what we plan to be in the future.
Contact our zoo educator at 201-634-3100, ext. 3125 to schedule a "Zoo History" presentation. Great for active senior programs, as well as civic organization guest speaker engagements, a $100 outreach program fee applies.

Programs for Children

The Bergen County Zoo is committed to providing high-quality, relevant, scientifically accurate education programs to all children, from parent-toddler dyads to independent young adults. Through our programs we strive to increase our program participant's knowledge of and empathy for animals and their habitats. Through this, it is hoped that participants will develop a desire to preserve the natural world. Below is a list of programs, with descriptions, that have been offered by Bergen County Zoo educators. This list is not meant to be all-inclusive. For more information regarding current program offerings and program fees, please see our Program Brochure (published seasonally).


Program  Description Age (years) Adult Presence
Play Time at the Zoo     Bring your favorite adult and participate in activities together during this unstructured playtime. Each week, a special animal guest will visit. Come once, a few times, or every week - it's up to you.   Infants and Toddlers   Yes
Zoo Babies     Toddlers and their favorite adult will learn about the zoo's animals in a structured class including stories, songs, activities, and a "stroller safari" through the zoo. Colors and patterns, animal sounds, and senses are a few of the themes that will be explored.   15 - 36 Months   Yes
Zoo Kids     Pre-school children and their favorite adult will learn about animals and their habitats in a structured class including songs, stories, activities, and safari through the zoo. Wetlands, mountains, and plains are a few of the habitats that will be explored.   3 - 5 Years   Yes
Wild & Crafty     Listen to stories and meet the animals from each tale. Complete a fun craft project related to each animal.   2 - 5 Years   Yes
Wild & Crafty Zoo Tour     Listen to stories and meet the animals from each tale. Complete a fun craft project related to each animal. The class ends with a safari through the zoo.   5 - 10 Years   No
Reptile Safari     Come learn more about the lives of animals covered in scales. Be prepared to go on a safari through the zoo to learn more about their amazing adaptations.   6 - 9 Years   No
Fossils     Want to learn more fossils? Join us as we explore evidence left behind by the predecessors to today's living animals. We will even have the chance to visit a few "living fossils".   10 - 13 Years   No
Night Owls     Spend an evening at the zoo learning about owls, cats, skunks and other nocturnal animals. Join us on a "night hike" through the zoo to see what our animals do when the sun goes down.   Families  
Endangered NJ     Not all endangered species live in faraway lands. Come learn more about the endangered species that call New Jersey home. Discover ways that you can help these animals and all of the wildlife that call New Jersey home.   10 - 15 Years   No
Zoo Camp     Each summer, the zoo runs its week long Zoo Camp Program. The application deadline for Zoo Camp is March 1st; campers are selected by lottery. Applications are automatically mailed to members of the zoo. Successful applicants must submit the following: Zoo Allergy FormZoo Asthma Action PlanZoo Health Assessment Form and Camper Release Forms. For membership information, please call 201-634-3100, ext. 3110 and view the table below.   5 - 15   No
Birding in the Park     Learn to identify local birds and join us in a birding expedition in the zoo and park.   All Ages  



Support the Zoo


Become a member of the zoo and enjoy many great benefits while supporting the zoo at the same time. Visit and search for the Friends of the Bergen County Zoo.  Membership categories are as follows:

Type of MembershipPrice ($)Benefits
Individual 30
  • Includes: One person
  • Unlimited free admission to the Bergen County Zoo (no waiting in lines!). Member must have their membership card on them to obtain free entrance.
  • Unlimited free or discounted admission to over 130 zoos and aquariums nationwide.
  • 10% discount on all gift shop purchases
  • Invitations to members-only programming/activities
  • Preferred ticket purchasing for special events like Zoo Boo
  • Invitation to annual Members Only Evening at the zoo
Dual 40
  • Includes: Two people residing in the same home
  • All benefits of an Individual Member for two people living at the same address
Family 50
  • Includes: Two (2) Adults and up to Four (4) Children
  • All benefits of an individual Member for parents or grandparents and their children or grandchildren under 18 years of age
Sustaining 65
  • All benefits of a Family Membership
  • 5 free annual guest passes (guest must be accompanied by zoo member)
  • Personalized certificate
Contributing 125
  • All benefits of a Family Membership
  • 10 free annual guest passes (guest must be accompanied by a zoo member)
  • Special zoo gift

Sponsor an Animal

The Bergen County Zoo strives to provide the highest level of care to the animals in its collection. You can help meet the expenses of maintaining an ever-growing collection by sharing the cost of maintaining one animal for a year. Sponsor an Animal Brochure Brochure


School/Scout Programs

Education Programs take place in the Zoo's Education / Discovery Center classroom and are held rain or shine. We can accommodate one class at a time (about 25 children), up to four classes each day. While one class attends the program, the other class(es) may visit the zoo and park. 


Outreach Programs

Outreach programs are available from September - March, in Bergen County only. Enjoy the same programs and animals you would meet in our Education / Discovery Center without the hassle of a class trip. We can accommodate up to three outreach programs per day.



All of our programs include a live animal demonstration and a variety of hands-on artifacts and are based on New J Core Curriculum Content Standards or Scout Badge Requirements. 

Pre-Kindergarten, Kindergarten, and Scout classes last approximately 30 minutes
First Grade through High School classes last approximately 45 minutes

Be Mindful of Age Groups

Please choose a program from the appropriate age group. Programs times are available seven days a week, and may begin as early as 10 a.m. Scout groups may choose from the regular school programs or the special badge program for their age group.


Teachers/Scout Leaders

School and Scout Programs are available at the zoo from September - June, or at your facility (in Bergen County only) from September - March. 

Programs are available for Pre-Kindergarten (ages 4 and up) through College. Check out the programs below for your group, then fill out and mail in the reservation form.



  • Registration for Fall / Winter programs begins August 1st

Reservation Forms (Education and Scout) must be received at least one month prior to your requested program date. April, May, and June are the busiest times at the zoo. To ensure that your group can attend a program, please consider coming in the winter or fall. For the best chance of reserving a spring program, send in your reservation form in December. 

All programs are reserved on a first-come, first-served basis


Pre-K & Kindergarten

The zoo is a great place to see exotic animals, but children can see animals every day right in their own backyards. This program introduces children to New Jersey's wildlife and teaches them how to enjoy and learn more about these animals appropriately and safely. Includes live animal demonstration.

Wild & Crafty Animal Tales

Choose your own animal for the theme of this lesson. Children will hear a story, meet the animal selected, and make a craft to take home. Choose from the following animals:

You can have one animal per class and please indicate your first and second choice on the reservation form.


1st - 3rd Grade

With so many different animals in the world, how do we tell them apart, and how are they all related? Discover the characteristics of fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals. Children will be "tested" by classifying the live animal guest.

Wild Pets

We've all seen snakes, turtles, lizards, and parrots at the pet store. But do these wild animals really make good pets? What about ferrets, chinchillas, and rabbits? Join us to learn which animals could and which animals shouldn't be kept as pets. Includes live animal demonstration.

Spineless Wonders

Invertebrates - animals without backbones. They're usually small, and often overlooked. Though most of the zoo's animals are vertebrates, most of the world's animals are invertebrates. Learn all about these spineless wonders and why they're so important in the animal kingdom. Includes live animal demonstration.



4th - 6th Grade

You know that all birds have feathers, beaks, and lay eggs. Now learn about their differences. This program will focus on the forms and functions of feathers, beaks, and eggs of different birds. Students will have the chance to meet one of our feathered friends up close. 

Amazing Adaptations

Two of the most important things in an animal's life are to eat and to avoid being eaten. Discover the survival strategies of different animals. How they eat, how they avoid being eaten, and how they have adapted to their habitats. Includes live animal demonstration.

Animal Wrappers

With so many different animals in the world, how do we tell them apart, and how are they all related? Discover the characteristics of fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals. Children will be "tested" by classifying the live animal guests.


7th Grade - High School

What jobs are available for people who like animals? Explore zoo related careers and discover what it's really like to be a zookeeper. This program includes a demonstration of how and why zoo animals are trained. For groups with fewer than 10 participants, a behind-the-scenes option may be available. If your group has more than 10 participants, the program includes an animal training demonstration.

Amazing Adaptations

Two of the most important things in an animal's life are to eat and to avoid being eaten. Discover the survival strategies of different animals. How they eat, how they avoid being eaten, and how they have adapted to their habitats. This program will also include a discussion and examples of convergent and divergent evolution. Includes live animal demonstration.


Boy Scouts & Girl Scouts

Scout Programs last approximately 45 minutes. We will cover all of the information necessary to earn your badge (for badge requirements, please see your scout book) but badges are not provided by the Bergen County Zoo.
Cub Scout Tiger Program(s)
Tigers in the Wild - Requirements 1 - 4, 6 & 7
Cub Scout Wolf Program(s)
Digging in the Past - Requirements 1 - 6; 5 (non-edible substitute used)
Paws on the Path I - Requirements 1-5, 7
Paws on the Path II - Requirements 6 & 8
Cub Scout Bear Program(s)

Fur, Feathers and Ferns - Requirements 1 - 6
Weblos Elective Adventure
Into the Wild - Requirements 3 - 8 complete
Earth Rocks - Requirements 1 - 6 complete
Boy Scout Merit Badges
Ask us how we can help with "study" Merit Badge Programs

Veterinary Medicine
Daisy Scout
Wild and Crafty Animal Tales
In My Backyard

Brownie Bugs
Junior Girl Scouts

Cadet/Senior Scout

All About Birds
Zoo Careers

Contact Us

 Bergen County Zoo

Phone: 201-634-3100

 Bergen County Department of Parks

One Bergen County Plaza • 4th Floor • Hackensack, NJ 07601-7076

Phone: 201-336-7275