They are adorable, furry, feathered, and sometimes even scaly, but most visitors agree – the residents of the Discovery Zoo are a must-see on every trip to the Boonshoft Museum of Discovery. Managed by the Live Animals Department, the Discovery Zoo consists of over one hundred animals and insects, ranging from entertaining river otters and engaging prehensile-tailed porcupines, to the ever-popular meerkats.
Though the Discovery Zoo houses myriad Animal Ambassadors, some of the wet and wild animals can also be found in the Bieser Discovery Center and the Tidal Pool. The Bieser Discovery Center is home to some of the “creepiest” critters which are often misunderstood because of their "scary" appearance, while the Tidal Pool is home to crustaceans and other creatures that inhabit the shore. So whether you stop by the Bieser Discovery Center to hang out with Rajeev, the Museum’s 16-foot-long Burmese python, or take a trip to the Tidal Pool to discover an indoor shoreline, there are live animal experiences to be found around every corner of the Boonshoft Museum.
Our Featured Animal of the Month is Wyatt, our bat-eared fox! Named for their noticably large ears - which they use to regulate their body temperature - these foxes are native to the African savanna. Since they are primarily insectivores, Wyatt loves to munch on crickets.
Celebrate this amazing animal by selecting an item from our Live Animal Amazon Wish List.
The Live Animals Department at the Boonshoft Museum now offers two options that allow guests to get an inside look at the Discovery Zoo and its adorable residents. With over 100 live animals, the Discovery Zoo and EcoTrek are home to all kinds of crazy critters, from our Two-toed sloth, Patience, to our charming Three-banded armadillo, Sheldon.
Not only do these private programs allow guests to have hands-on interactions that our daily visitors don't typically experience, they also go behind-the-scenes with professional Zookeepers to care for our wonderful animals.
Experience the most unique behind-the-scenes zoo tour in the region. Not only will our professional live animal staff take you on a guided tour of the Discovery Zoo and EcoTrek Animal Ambassador Room, you will have the chance to feed our North American river otters, meet rainforest exhibit residents, craft an enrichment item for the meerkats or bat-eared foxes, interact with our most adorable animal ambassadors, and much, much more!
Perfect for small groups, this behind-the-scenes tour make a perfect gift experience, date night, or family outing.
• Private guided tour of EcoTrek Animal Ambassador Room, PLUS hands-on experiences with some of our amazing animal ambassadors, like Sheldon the three banded armadillo!
• Private guided tour of the Discovery Zoo and Preparation Areas
• Guests craft an enrichment item for either our bat-eared foxes or meerkats, then watch them interact and play with your special gift!
• Explore Splasher and Diver's holding enclosure, then feed them a delicious otter snack!
• Meet Patience the two-toed sloth, take a “sloth-selfie”, and feed her a yummy snack!
• Plenty of opportunities to snap some pictures with your favorite animals throughout the tour.
• Take home a porcupine quill to commemorate your visit with us!
Programs may be booked any evening from 5:30 p.m to 6:30 p.m.
Group sizes should be at a maximum of 6 and a minimum of 2; available to children 3 and up (1 adult must be in group).
Programming time: 1 hour
$75/person for groups of 1-3, $250 flat fee for groups with 4-6 people.
Click here to begin the booking process for your Behind-the-Scenes Interactive Tour Experience
Spend the morning walking in an actual Zookeeper's shoes, as you get exclusive behind-the-scenes time with the live animals of the Discovery Zoo. Not only will Jr. Zookeepers get hands-on interactions with adorable animals, they will also learn about the care that goes into keeping our crazy critters happy and healthy!
Perfect for small groups, this behind-the-scenes program makes a perfect gift experience, intimate birthday celebration, or family outing.
• Quality, hands-on time with our Discovery Zoo residents, while learning about the care given to our adorable Zoo residents to keep them happy and healthy!
• Become an animal chef and help prepare food for our hungry Zoo crew—delicious!
• Much like your domesticated pets play with toys, our live animals use enrichment items to keep them active and engaged. Guests learn about enrichment items and give them to the animals so they can have a blast!
• Our Zookeepers are accomplished animal trainers and caregivers; one of the most important things they do is handling our live animals properly. Jr. Zookeepers get their chance to hold animals in a way that keeps them happy and comfortable.
Programs are available the first and third Saturday of every month, from 9:00 - 11:00 a.m.
Children 4 - 13 years old may participate with an accompanying adult. Older children, 14 and up, may participate with the written permission of a parent or guardian.
Programming time: 2 hours
$75/participant; there is no additional fee to include one parent/guardian participant (if applicable)
If you have questions about these prorgams feel free to email our friendly staff at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our Education animals come to you, so students can get up close and personal at your school or community gathering. Learn about the behaviors and habitats of some of our adorable, cuddley, creepy, and crawly animals. Programs are conservation-based, and explain how important each of these creatures is to the environment.
Daytime: $85 per program
Evening/Weekend: $100 per program
*Please note that travel fees apply for all programs.
Preschool & Pre-K Groups: Programs are 45 minutes, with a maximum of 30 students per program.
All Other Groups: Programs are 60 minutes, with a maximum of 50 participants.
Interested in bringing our Animal Ambassadors to a community event or festival? A two hour session that can accommodate walk-by participants is available for $200.
For more information or to book a program, please email LiveAnimals@boonshoftmuseum.org or call 937.275.7431, ext. 116.
Unfortunately rehabilitating injured and orphaned wildlife is not a service we are able to provide. We do not have the necessary staff, resources or space needed to provide rehabilitation. Feel free to call us though and we can direct you to the nearest wildlife rehabilitator
We receive many calls throughout the year from folks who are looking for a new home for a pet that they can no longer care for. Unfortunately we usually cannot accept these animals for a variety of reasons. We may be able to help you find an agency that can help with unwanted pets though.
Teens over 14 years of age and adults who are willing to make a minimum commitment of six months after completing our specialized training program are welcome to apply for volunteer positions. In addition, an animal Wish List can be found below. Donations are always welcome.
School is where it all starts. Almost all zoos require college degrees for entry level animal care positions and we are no exception. Our advice is to volunteer as a teenager at a zoo or museum and to pursue a college degree in biology, zoology or a similar degree.
It varies year to year, but we generally have just over one hundred animals. This includes not only the mammals, birds and reptiles, but also all the fish and invertebrates.
At the Museum our largest animal by far is Rajeev, the Burmese Python. Weighing in at 155 pounds and almost 16 feet long, he is significantly larger than our runner-up Madison the bobcat. Rajeev is still growing and could reach a length of up to 22 feet!
AZA stands for the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. The AZA strives to promote the highest possible standards in all areas of the zoological profession. To become an accredited member of AZA requires a very detailed application and inspection process that looks at all aspects of your institution including animal care, education, staff professionalism, veterinary care and much more. There are currently about 200 AZA accredited institutions.