Get Ready for a Wild Encounter:
Bison Wild Encounter

Being a zookeeper takes careful preparation. Here are some things you need to know so that you can be prepared to work side by side with your Bison Wild Encounter zoo crew:

  1. Participants must be in relatively good physical condition as this is a high energy program providing the opportunity to work side by side with keepers. It is important that you are able to go up and down stairways at a moderate pace and are able to stand and kneel for up to 15 minutes at a time.
  2. Communication between you and the Bizon zoo crew is crucial. You must be able to read, speak, and understand English with out the use of an interpreter.
  3. You must be attentive and follow directions at all times. Although the bison are comfortable working with their human caregivers, they are still wild animals and their behavior is unpredictable. It is important that you pay close attention to the guidance and instructions of the zoo crew.
  4. Any special needs should be discussed with the program manager prior to the program via contact information provided below.
Please also note the following precautions:
  • All participants are required to complete a signed liability waiver.*
  • You cannot participate in this program if you are pregnant.
  • Not all portions of this program are fully accessible. Guests with disabilities: please call (708) 688-8338, for accessibility information.


Who can register for the Bison Wild Encounter?

  • Adults
  • Youth over the age of 12 with the written permission of a parent or guardian and the accompaniment of a non-paying adult chaperone

    Can my family or friends watch me participate in this program?
    To ensure the safety of all involved, only the registered program participants will be allowed in the areas where the program is taking place.

    What should I wear?
    As part of the program, you will be outdoors subject to weather conditions that day. Please wear long pants. There is the chance that your clothing will come in contact with water, dirt and mud so you may want to bring a change of clothes and appropriate shoes which may get wet and/or muddy. You will be asked to remove all jewelry other than smooth wedding bands (no stones). Because you may be in front of the public during various sessions, we ask that you wear something presentable without holes or noticeable wear.

    Will there be a place to store my personal items?
    Yes. We will provide you with a secure place to keep your personal items while you participate in your Wild Encounters program.

    Can I take pictures during the program?
    Yes, you may bring a camera but you will be instructed by your zoo crew as to when and where photos will take place.

    Where do we meet?
    A keeper will meet you at the north entrance of the Great Bear Wilderness bison tunnel promptly at 8:00 a.m. If you are parking your car for the length of the program, please park at the South Gate and walk down to the door. Since this is prior to zoo regular opening hours, please do not visit any other parts of the park. You will receive a map once you complete your registration.

    What if I’m late?
    If you are more than 15 minutes late, please call (708) 688- 8489 and the keeper will meet you as soon as they are able. If you arrive late, the length of the program cannot be extended beyond 9:30 am.

    What if I need to cancel?
    Any cancellations must be received seven or more business days in advance of the scheduled program in order to receive a refund. Registration does include a non-refundable deposit equal to 25% of program cost. Any cancellations received six business days or less are not eligible for a refund. Exceptions to the refund policy will be made on case by case basis and at the sole discretion of the Senior Manager of Learning Experiences.

    What do I need to know about working with the animals?
    Although our bison are comfortable working with their human caregivers, they are still wild animals and their behavior is unpredictable. It is important that you pay close attention to the guidance and instructions of the keeper you are spending the morning with. Never enter any animal area without direction from the keeper. Always wait for instructions and authorization from the keeper before approaching any of the animals while participating in training and feeding sessions.

    If you have additional questions or concerns, please email or call 708-688-8361.