America’s Teaching Zoo

Family time at America’s Teaching Zoo at Moorpark College.

Recently, my family and I attended a birthday party for my niece at America’s Teaching Zoo at Moorpark College. I have gone with my family a number of times in the past, but this was our most recent trip, and I thought I would share some quick info and recommendations.

(In terms of full disclosure, I also work for Moorpark College. But I will try to remain objective!)


First, I highly recommend this little zoo for a quick and fun family outing that will not take up the entire day or hit you so hard in the wallet!

My family and I all enjoy visiting zoos and we’ve been to quite a few, including the San Diego Zoo, Los Angeles Zoo, and Santa Barbara Zoo. The America’s Teaching is considerably smaller than those, so this is not an all-day activity. It is perfect for something fun to do earlier in the day followed by whatever else you have planned (including weekend chores barbequing).

Despite the relatively small size, there is still quite a lot to see and do. They house over 130 individual animals including: baboons, bald eagles, beavers, gibbons, potbellied pigs, Nigerian dwarf goats, sugar gliders, Navajo-churro sheep, red fox, coati, raccoons, coyotes, servals, ocelots, donkeys, New Guinea singing dogs, llamas, spotted hyenas, African lions, and two Bengal tigers! 

Note that animals do come and go since the zoo is also involved in conservation and preservation programs, so check in advance if you’re hoping to see a specific animal.

The zoo is easy to navigate and requires only minimal walking. Navigating the facility does not require using stairs, so it is accessible for those with mobility challenges.

Enclosures are relatively small, so you are likely to get a good look at the animals. 

The zoo is in the process of expanding and creating larger enclosures, especially for the big animals like the tigers. But the expansion work does not interfere with the current facilities.

There is a stage show at least twice each day in an outdoor stage area (which can be moved inside to a large lecture hall nearby for inclement weather). During the show, zoo staff will display individual animals and teach the audience more about the animal’s species. The stage area allows for some very up-close views of the animals.

Also check the schedule for feeding time to watch the lions and tigers and all the rest enjoying their meals!

The title “America’s Teaching Zoo” is not just a slogan. This zoo is the only facility in the country attached to a community college, dedicated to teaching students about working with exotic animals. Students come from all over the United States (plus internationally) to join the Exotic Animals Training and Management (EATM) program to prepare for careers working with exotic animals in zoos or in other contexts, including the entertainment industry. The zoo’s commitment to education extends from teachers and professional staff, to the students, to the visitors. There is a lot to learn.

There are snacks and some merchandise available for purchase, but no facilities to purchase full meals. If you plan to have lunch here, you will need to bring your own. But there is plenty of seating in shady areas for picnics.

Overall recommendation

As I said, this is a fun quick family activity if you live in the local area or happen to already be in the local area and have a couple hours free. I could personally spend the entire day at the zoo, carefully observing each animal and chatting with the students about them. But for most families, particularly those with younger children, I would plan to stay for perhaps two or three hours. This is not something you’d plan an entire big trip around, more something you’d add to a list of different activities for a trip.


America’s Teaching Zoo is open only on weekends: Saturday and Sunday from 11:00 am to 4:30 pm. The zoo may need to close to the public due to various circumstances, so always check ahead to make sure they are open the day you are planning to visit.

Advance ticket purchase is highly recommended.

You can purchase tickets here. Costs are Adults $9.00, Seniors and Children (3-12) $7.00, Children 0-2 free.

You can also book a birthday party at the zoo (link here). There are two packages, but the only difference is for the more expensive package, you get a private animal presentation show in the stage area, while for the less expensive package, you are welcome to join one of the scheduled public shows. The higher end package info:

Party Animal Package – $450

  • Party Time of 10:00am to 1:00PM
  • Free admission to the Zoo for family and up to 60 guests
  • Private 30-minute presentation honoring your birthday child beginning at 10:30 am
  • Reserved, shaded picnic area
  • 2 six-foot serving tables
  • 8 eight-foot picnic tables and two pre-school height picnic tables
  • Large commercial sink, electricity and two refrigerators

You will need to bring your own decorations, food, drinks, and cake. This is advantageous in that you can decide what type of food you want and avoid having the pay a mark up on food or decorations.

Of course, alcohol is not permitted. It is a school after all! (For grown up after-party options, we’ll have a whole separate blog for breweries and restaurants in Moorpark!)

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