5 Things to Do at the Birmingham Zoo this Summer

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With the summer season starting soon, the Birmingham Zoo has got you covered with everything from new programs, camps, group outings, and tours.

Birmingham Mom Collective is here to tell you the five things to do at the Birmingham Zoo this summer!

Birmingham zoo

Summer Leadership Program for Teens 

For the first time, the Birmingham Zoo is offering a Summer Leadership Experience for teens and tweens grades 6-12! The Experience includes critical leadership skills development, self-assessment and career exploration. There are Standard Weeks and Specialty Weeks. Teens may apply for one or more weekly sessions or repeat weekly offerings as desired.

Standard Weeks

  • PROJECT EARTH FORCE: This week will guide youths to investigate, plan and create actionable solutions for their communities. Teens will learn and practice sharing power with adults, democratic decision-making and utilizing civics principles to ignite a new generation of community organizers and leaders. 
  • ZOO LEADERS: Teens will transform their essential soft skills in a week built around trust, communication, listening, cooperation and problem solving. This intensive team building program will allow teens to learn from the animal kingdom and one another to shape our next generation of heroes for the planet.

Specialty Weeks

  • “FZLA”: Are you a Future Zoo Leader of America? Teens deep dive into the many departments that run the Zoo and parallel those in peer environmental organizations. As a specialty week, teens will have extra opportunities to engage in demonstrations, behind-the-scenes tours and hands-on experiences. They will explore roles covering education, media, research, vet science, animal care, events, horticulture and conservation.
  • ZOO KEEPER: Roll up your sleeves and learn what it is like to be an advocate for animals! Teens work alongside and support projects for the Animal Care Professionals in zoo husbandry, feeding, training, enrichment and more.

Click here for more information. Registration for summer programming begins to close May 6th, so register today!

Summer Camps

Completed kindergarteners through fifth graders have several camp options this summer. Zoo Camps give kids the opportunity to develop social skills, explore nature, and engage with the Zoo in unique ways. 

  • CREATURE FEATURE: Explore how animals use their fantastic features to survive and thrive in their environment. Lessons focus on whiskers, tooth design, opposable thumbs, beaks, patterns and more!
  • HIDE & SEEK CAMP: Campers embrace and learn about the senses like never before in this exciting exploration of how the natural world uses sight and sound to survive, even in changing environments. Filled with opportunities to problem solve and get creative, this camp inspires the youngest minds to think and seek outside the box!
  • ZOO RANGER: Learn from the experts what it means to enrich, care for and protect animals in this exciting week filled with behind-the-scenes knowledge. Perfect for those young campers just learning what it takes to care for others or try out some mini responsibilities!

Click here for more information. Registration for camps begins to close May 6th, so register today!

VIP Tour Experiences

Come walk on the wild side at the Birmingham Zoo with their Behind-the-Scenes Encounters!   

On these unique experiences, you’ll get an insider’s look at how the Zoo cares for the animals. Encounters are led by a Zoo educator and include a tour of behind-the-scenes animal areas, time with expert Animal Care Professionals and a special opportunity to meet animals up close. These unique moments can only be had at the Birmingham Zoo and will build memories that last a lifetime!

Behind-the-Scenes Encounter: African Elephants

Ever wanted to get up close to the largest land mammal on earth? Come meet the elephants! Learn about and see firsthand how the Zoo cares for the African elephant herd on this behind-the-scenes tour of the elephant barn including a private training session! 

These tours begin at 1:30 p.m. on May 18, June 15, July 20, August 17, September 21, October 19, November 16 and December 21. Tours meet in the main entry plaza and proceed to the elephant barn in the Trials of Africa. The full experience will last about one hour.

Click here to register for Elephant Behind-the-Scenes. (Hint: members can navigate to “Sign in” on the upper right on the booking page to receive discounted rates.)

Behind-the-Scenes Encounter: American Black Bears

Care to venture closer and encounter Alabama’s state mammal? This unique opportunity gives you the chance to watch a private training session as well as get an inside look at the bear den. You will have the opportunity to learn all about the Zoo’s resident bears “Bety” and “Sassy” and how the Zoo cares for them.  

These tours begin every Sunday at 10:30 a.m. until the end of August. Tours meet in the entry plaza and proceed to the Alabama Wilds Trail. This full experience will last about one hour.

Click here to register for American Black Bears Behind-the-Scenes. (Hint: members can navigate to “Sign in” on the upper right on the booking page to receive discounted rates.)

Encounters accommodate a limited number of registrants in each date/time and are not private experiences. If you would like to book a private encounter, please email [email protected] for pricing and availability. 

Membership Packages

Most memberships pay for themselves within three visits! Memberships start at $70 for individuals and $150 for families. There are military and foster family discounts available, too.

Memberships include unlimited daytime visits throughout the year, discounts on guests you bring, as well as discounts in the gift shop and restaurants.

My personal favorite is the discount on admission to approximately 150 AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums. We have taken advantage of this through the years on various family excursions around the South.

Members receive the “My Member Perks” Coupon Book worth hundreds in savings at the Birmingham Zoo and other local businesses and organizations. Plus, members receive discounts on events, camps, classes and birthday parties!

Renew or purchase your membership here!

A New Baby Giraffe!

The Birmingham Zoo recently announced the birth of a healthy female giraffe born to mother Ruby and father Jalil! The baby reticulated giraffe was born on April 17, 2024, expanding the giraffe herd from four to five members. More than 8,200 Birmingham Zoo friends across the region voted on the zoo’s social media sites and selected “Mopane” as the baby’s name. Pronounced “Mo-Paw-Nee,” the name represents an African tree with leaves eaten by giraffes.

The birth of Mopane is a testament to the dedication and expertise of the Birmingham Zoo’s animal care team. They diligently monitored Ruby’s pregnancy and ensured her health and well-being throughout her pregnancy. 

This pairing is the result of a recommendation from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Giraffe Species Survival Plan (SSP), a cooperative management program that ensures healthy, sustainable populations in AZA zoos.

“We are overjoyed to welcome this beautiful baby giraffe to our Zoo family,” said Chris Pfefferkorn, CEO and President of the Birmingham Zoo. “Giraffe populations in the wild are declining and the birth of this giraffe is another step in the Zoo’s work to help with the conservation of giraffes.” 

Mother and calf are bonding well. Guests at the Zoo have already had opportunities to catch glimpses of the calf as she explores her new home. 

The birth of Mopane serves as a reminder of the importance of preserving and protecting species for future generations to enjoy. My kids and I cannot wait to see her!

Make your summer plans at the Birmingham Zoo today–what are you waiting for?!



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