Kids! Take a Bite out of the Zoo

The Zoo Director’s Tours for Kids (and grownups, too)

Take a Bite out of the Zoo

The Milwaukee County Zoo’s a big place. Let’s break it down into small bites. What’s fun to see? What’s not to miss? What’s to eat? Where are the baby animals? What’s new?

Chuck Wikenhauser
Zoo Director Chuck Wikenhauser takes you through the Zoo.

There are oodles of ways to divide up the Zoo. Chuck Wikenhauser, the Zoo director, has tips for you. Come along with him and meet his favorite animals. (Hint: They’re black and white.) Get his view of fun places at the Zoo. Chomp. Chomp! Here are three ways to take smaller bites of the Zoo with tours just for you.

1. Chomp. Chomp! Divide the Zoo by area.

Pick from five obvious “islands of adventure” on the Zoo grounds. Click here (PDF - 323KB) for a map and highlights of the upper Zoo, middle Zoo, lower Zoo, Primates and Apes, and the Northwestern Mutual Family Farm. You can print out the PDF page and take it with you to the Zoo as a guide.

2. Chomp. Chomp! Divide the Zoo by your mood.

Click here (PDF - 269KB) for a map and descriptions of five Zoo tours perfect for a quick trip or a longer trek. You can print out the PDF page, take it with you to the Zoo and choose from these five:

  • Adventure across the entire Zoo
  • Rainy-day (snowy-day) tour
  • Hands-on fun, winter or summer
  • Let’s ride (mostly warm weather)
  • Playful animals tour

3. Chomp. Chomp! Go in a Circle. Stop Where You Want.

Just want to go? Click here (PDF - 372KB) for a list of fun Zoo spots if you go in a circle through the Zoo (turning left after you come out of the U.S. Bank Gathering Place).  Begin by checking out the playful Humboldt penguins near the Zoo’s entrance and end at the Flamingo Café for an ice cream treat!

Extra! Extra! Chuck Wikenhauser’s notes to parents:

  • Best use of time:
    “The Zoo is set up so you can choose some experiences and make the most of your time,” says the Zoo director. “For example, you might want to go only to the Northwestern Mutual Family Farm on a summer day. Or maybe you want to go to just the Aquatic & Reptile Center and the Herb and Nada Mahler Family Aviary. They’re part of what we often call the ‘upper Zoo,’ which has mostly indoor animal exhibits but includes the outdoor Macaque Island. The ‘lower Zoo’ includes more outdoor exhibits, such as bears, moose, and wolves but also has the Australian Building. You can pick certain areas without thinking you have to do the whole Zoo. We have people coming once a month. That’s why we put in the coffee bar [as you enter the Zoo through the U.S. Bank Gathering Place]. They don’t have to stop for coffee-to-go before coming to the Zoo. They can make a quick stop for a great cup of coffee here.”

  • Best value:
    Zoo Pass. An advantage of being a Zoological Society member and getting your Zoo Pass is that you get free admission year-round (not including parking, unless you have Zoo Pass Plus). [Click here for information.] So it’s easy to stop at the Zoo for just an hour or two. With shorter visits, you don’t have to cram the Zoo’s 200-plus acres into just one day. See something different every time. This is especially nice for families with small children or for people who get tired easily.
  • What’s to eat?
    There is plenty to “chomp on” at the Milwaukee County Zoo.

    Where to eat Where in the Zoo Types of food When open 
    Farmer’s Market Farm Healthful snacks for kids Summer* Fall**
    Dairy Store Farm Ice cream, funnel cakes Summer* Fall**
    Flamingo Café Zoo entrance Full meals, snacks, pizza hot appetizers, salads, desserts Year-round
    Lakeview Place Lake Evinrude Hot sandwiches, deli wraps, pizza, salads, ice cream Summer* Fall**
    Depot Snack Shop Near train station Hot dogs, burgers, subs, snacks, ice cream, funnel cakes Summer*
    Sea Lion Stand Near sea lion show Hot dogs, steak sandwich, snacks, ice cream Summer*
    Woodland Retreat Near Small Mammals Bldg. Value meals, hot sandwiches, pizza, snacks, ice cream Summer*
    U.S. Bank Gathering Place Coffee & Snack Shop Zoo entrance Coffee, candy, snacks, sandwiches, grab-and-go items bottled beverages Summer* Fall**
    Beverage & food carts Throughout Zoo popcorn wagons, pretzel & beverage carts, ice cream kiosks Summer* Fall**

    * Summer is Memorial Day Weekend through Labor Day
    ** Fall refers mostly to weekends in September and October. Please check with Guest Services on the day you’re at the Zoo to see what’s open. Guest Services is in the U.S. Bank Gathering Place entrance.

The Zoo director’s tours were designed with help from editor Paula Brookmire, intern Brianne Schwantes and artist Roberta Weldon of the Zoological Society of Milwaukee.