Schools on Safari Field Trip Packages

2024 Schools on Safari Field Trip registration will begin January 22, 2024!

Take your class on a field trip they are sure to love! Schools on Safari field trip packages are available late April through the month of May.

Your 2024 Schools on Safari package may include:

• A 30-minute live animal presentation 

• Self-guided, self-paced tour of the Zoo’s educational exhibits, including the Wallaby Walkabout and Otter Creek

• Specially designed resource materials available to download

Admission to the Zoo for all participating students and teachers is included in your fee

•An optional group train ride is available at a discounted rate of $2 per rider, available exclusively to Schools on Safari groups (must be selected at the time of reservation.)

2024 Schools on Safari Program Details:

Duration: 30-minute presentation + as much time as you need for your self-guided tour

Available: Weekdays April 16th through May 22nd. Earliest appointment: 10:00am.  

Program Fee: $6 per person (all staff and students are subject to fees)

Your live animal presentation will feature up to 3 of the Zoo’s amazing Animal Ambassadors. Students are encouraged, but never required, to touch the animals whenever it is safe and appropriate. Due to the volume of presentations that take place during this busy season, we are unable to take special requests for specific animal appearances. Each presentation group may see a different set of animals. 

We require at least one teacher or school staff person sit in with each presentation group. All others are subject to the program fee of $6 per person, and subject to capacity limitations.   **Per fire code, we can accommodate up to 30 students and 2 teachers in our Savannah Classroom. Smaller groups may have additional scheduling options utilizing our Ocean Classroom, which can accommodate 23 students, plus 2 teachers. The Zoo will schedule your group for the appropriate sized room based on the group size information you provide at the time of reservation.  A head count will be taken on your visit date and you will be billed for the exact number of participants in attendance.  Please be aware that due to the volume of requests we receive, it is highly unlikely that you will be able to upgrade to the larger room at a later time.  When in doubt, please advance reserve for the largest number of participants you anticipate - you will only be billed for those that actually attend.  If more individuals report for a presentation than the occupancy maximum permits, those additional individuals will not be allowed to participate in the presentation and must wait outside of the classroom. 

**Please note that although they are welcome to visit the zoo with your group, parent chaperones are not included in the Schools on Safari program fees, nor are they permitted to attend the classroom presentation. Please see the FAQ section for more information on parent chaperones.  

2024 Presentation Themes:

Animals Up Close - PreK and Kindergarten 

Students will meet a variety of live animals, exploring their special qualities, such as size, shape, color, body covering, and movement style.  The focus is on the emerging science skills of making observations, comparing/contrasting, and asking questions. 

Creature Features - Grades 1-5

An exploration of animal adaptations with content varying by grade level to align with grade specific standards and science topics.  Depending on your grade level this theme may address topics such as: how animal features help survival in diverse habitats, classification, life cycle-based adaptations, heritability of traits, competition within ecosystems, interconnectivity within ecosystems, Indiana native species.  All grade level presentations include age-appropriate content regarding the importance of wildlife conservation.

Frequently Asked Questions          

Q.  What type of facilities qualify for Schools on Safari?

K-12 public and private schools are eligible for the Schools on Safari program. Additionally, Pre-K classes ages 4+ may reserve this program.  For Pre-K and day care groups that do not meet this age requirement, please contact us for alternate program options.

Q.  How many adults are required?

We expect that school groups will bring adequate adults to supervise the students in their care. We require at least 1 teacher or school staff member to sit in on the classroom presentation and ride the train with the children if you've elected to include that option, but beyond that please follow your school's policies for adult-student ratios. Additional parent/adult chaperones and or siblings are welcome to accompany your group at your discretion, but please read on for additional info on admission and participation of these individuals.

Q.  Are chaperones included in the per person fee?

No. Schools will be invoiced only for the number of teachers/staff and students determined at check-in. Parent chaperones are welcome to visit the Zoo with your group, but will need to pay regular admission fees at the admission gate. If you would like to invite parents to accompany your group on the optional train ride (up to train capacity), they may purchase their individual train tickets with their admission or at the gift shop. 

Q.  Can chaperones or siblings come to the animal presentation?  

Sorry, parent chaperones and siblings are not permitted to attend the classroom presentation. We know this may disappoint some families, so we'd like to explain our reasons. First and foremost, we want to ensure that the focus is on the students who are here for an educational (and fun) experience. We have found that the presence of parents and siblings can create unintentional disruptions (adult side conversations, cell phones, parents not always demonstrating positive attitudes towards specific animals, etc) and restricting the classroom presentation to the normal learning group tends to provide a better quality experience for the class. We have also heard your feedback that including parents when our fire code limits may not make it possible for ALL of them to attend puts teachers in an awkward position in determining which parents can go in with their child and which must wait outside. We agree that the last thing teachers need on an already stressful field trip is added stress. So, let us be the "bad guy" - no parents or siblings in the classroom presentation is now our policy. 

Q.  How and when do I pay for my field trip?

We will do a head count on the day of your program at check-in, and will distribute wristbands or handstamps to participants.  Your school or PTO will then be invoiced for the fee total and payment can be received after your visit date.  If your school requires an advance invoice, please contact prior to making your reservation.  While we can accept payment at check-in on the day of your field trip, it is not required.  Note we are also unable to provide change for cash payments, or provide immediate receipts for day-of payments.  Due to the potential for weather-related cancellations, we strongly discourage pre-payment.

Q.  What happens if it rains?  Will I still get charged?

Rain is always a possibility.  The Zoo remains open rain or shine, however it is an open-air facility and there are no indoor exhibit areas for groups to shelter during inclement weather.  Although the classroom presentations take place indoors, if you are bringing multiple classes you will likely have students out in inclement weather.  We understand this may be a cause for cancellation for some schools.  For this reason, we will not bill you until after your program has taken place and strongly discourage prepayment.  

If you choose to cancel your visit due to forecast inclement weather (or any other reason) we will simply not invoice you!  We do ask that you provide courtesy notification that you will not be attending, as outlined in your confirmation email, or a $50 no-show fee will be invoiced to your school to offset administrative fees. Additionally, please note that early departures due to rain must check-out as directed in your confirmation instructions in order to have an invoice adjustment applied.  

If the train is unable to run due to inclement weather or any other reason, that portion of your reservation will be removed from your invoice.  No rain vouchers will be issued, as in past years.  Please note, missed train rides due to failure to arrive at the train depot at your scheduled time will be billed as reserved.  Please plan accordingly when scheduling your on-site activities.

Q. Can I add the train at a later date?

In order to receive the Schools on Safari discounted train ride fee, you must reserve your train ride at the time of your original reservation.  The train rides are scheduled for specific departure times.  If you decide later that you wish to add the train, you may inquire at the Zoo Gift Shop on the day of your visit as to space availability and purchase individual train tickets at the regular ticket fee. However, since priority is given to pre-reserved groups, it is unlikely that large groups will be able to add train rides on the day of their visit.  Small groups may be accommodated at the discretion of the Zoo.

Q.  What animals will my students get to see and touch?

The Zoo has a variety of Animal Ambassadors that are eligible to appear in programs like this, but the exact animals presented will vary by date, theme, and a number of other animal management factors.  The safety of our visitors and the well-being of our animals are of the utmost importance, so we cannot guarantee a contact opportunity with all animals seen (although most presentations include at least 1-2 touching opportunities). In general you can expect animals such as smaller snakes, lizards, tortoises, and small mammals like armadillo, chinchilla or sugar gliders, tree frogs, and small invertebrates such as Madagascar hissing cockroaches.  

Q.  Where do we eat?  Is there a place to store lunches?

There are a number of picnic shelters available in Columbian Park (outside of the Zoo's gates) which are available first-come, first-served to the general public, or can be reserved for a fee through the Lafayette Parks and Recreation offices at (765) 807-1500. The Zoo does not have a place to store your lunch items on grounds.

Q. What else is there to do in the park - how much time do we need?

CPZ is a small zoo, which can be fully explored by most field trip groups in an hour or two.  In addition to walking around the exhibits your reservation includes access to downloadable worksheets that can enhance your visit.  Columbian Park is also home to approximately 40 acres of green space, a lagoon, and the multi-age SIA playground. During the Schools on Safari season, Tropicanoe Cover waterpark has not yet opened for the year.  The Zoo Carousel experienced significant construction delays due to the pandemic, and a debut date has not yet been determined.

Q. I have a student with an allergy.  Is it safe for them to participate?

The Zoo is not an allergen-free zone and visitors may be exposed to a variety of allergens.  Presentation take place in the DeFouw Education Center, in which a variety of animals are housed along with animal diets that may include peanuts, tree nuts, eggs, wheat, dairy, soy, and other common allergens.  Please discuss any concerns with Zoo Education staff at the time of your reservation.  Parent inquiries can be directed to  It is our goal to share exposure risk information, but only you can decide whether or not it is a safe and appropriate venue for your children.

Q. Is the Zoo handicap-accessible?

The DeFouw Education Center is handicap-accessible.  The Zoo exhibits areas have a variety of pathways substrates including paved, gravel and mulch.  Wherever possible, alternate viewing areas have been included in exhibit design, in adherence with ADA requirements.  All areas of the Zoo are sensory-rich.  Please note, service animals including psychiatric service animals, as defined by the ADA, are permitted on Zoo grounds, but are not allowed to enter immersion areas.  ESA or emotional support animals do not qualify as service animals under ADA or Indiana law.  If you have questions regarding these issues please contact us at

Have a different question?  Contact us at

We will begin taking reservations on:

January 22, 2024

First-come, first-served for choice of dates. For fairness, no reservations will be taken prior to this date.

1. Download a 2024 Schools on Safari Field Trip Request Form

In order to streamline the reservation process, we will only accept requests using this form - questions by email or phone are welcome, but a form is required for all reservation requests. The form will become available on January 22nd. 

Download the form HERE on January 22.

2. Complete the form (and double check your work!)

Please complete ALL the required fields on the form. Due to the volume of requests we receive, we will not be processing incomplete submissions.  As teachers, we know you understand how difficult things can get when people do not follow directions! We tried to make the form as easy to use as possible. Please double check that all required fields are complete before submitting, and if you are printing and completing it by hand, please ensure your handwriting is legible. We will notify you if there's a problem, but the resulting delay may mean you miss your preferred dates.

3. Submit your completed form electronically to

If you choose to print and hand complete your form we kindly ask that you scan and email the completed form as a pdf. (Please don't send cell phone pictures of your completed form, as they are rarely legible after file compression and it will delay your request being evaluated.)

4. Watch your email

The Schools on Safari Coordinator will evaluate complete request forms in the order in which they are received. With a huge number of requests all with different groups sizes and availability constraints it can be a bit like playing school group tetris to try to accommodate as many requests as possible. We appreciate your patience at this phase - it may take several days to a week or longer to send you a tentative schedule. At that point you can confirm the reservation, or we can explore adjustments. 


COVID-19 Information

The Zoo will continue to monitor the ever-changing COVID-19 guidelines and will adapt its protocols as appropriate to the current situation.  Please be aware of the following:

  • Schools on Safari presentations take place in an indoor classroom.
  • Limitations with seating during Schools on Safari precludes social distancing ability.  Seats are less than 3' from each other.
  • Face coverings are not currently required of participants.   If this parameter changes, schools will be notified that masks must be worn for the duration of the program.  If a face covering requirement is in place, individuals who are not in compliance will not be permitted to stay inside during the presentation.
  • Our scheduling configuration allows for enhanced cleaning between schools. 

We will include current COVID-19 information and requirements in your final confirmation email approximately 2 weeks before your field trip date.