Schools on Safari Field Trip Packages

We are now FULL for the 2022 Schools on Safari season! 

Thank you for your overwhelming interest in our formal field trip program at Columbian Park Zoo.   School groups who have not scheduled through the Schools on Safari program, but still want to visit the Zoo, are welcome!  Please email to let us know that you are coming, so we can be ready at our Admissions gate and can provide helpful tips for group visits.  

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 2022 Schools on Safari package includes:

• 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 students is included in your fee.  Free admission for up to 2 teachers (or adult chaperones) is included.

•An optional group train ride is available at a discounted rate of $1 per rider, available exclusively to Schools on Safari groups (must be selected at the time of reservation.)

2022 Schools on Safari Program Details:

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

Available: Weekdays starting April 19 through May 20, 2022.  Earliest appointment: 10:00am.  

Program Fee: $4 per person (teacher + one additional adult per group are free) 

Your live animal presentation will feature up to 3 of the Zoo’s amazing Animal Ambassadors. Participants 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 2 adults per presentation group, which are included free of charge. All others are subject to the program fee of $4 per person, and subject to capacity limitations.   **Per fire code, we can accommodate up to 30 students and 2 adults in our Savannah Classroom (or alternate combination to adhere to this occupancy maximum). Smaller groups may have additional scheduling options utilizing our Ocean Classroom, which can accommodate 23 students, plus 2 adults (or alternate combination to adhere to this occupancy maximum). 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. 

2022 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.  Are chaperones included in the fee?

Each presentation group receives 2 adults at no charge - and we require at least  two adults to be present with each group to ensure adequate supervision.  

Q.  What if I want to bring more adult chaperones?  

Additional adult chaperones are welcome to accompany your group, but are subject to fees and presentation/train capacity limits.  If your school wishes to pay for adults to attend the presentation and/or ride the train along with your students, these adults (up to capacity limit) will be included on your school's invoice at the same rate of $4 per person, plus and additional $1 per person to add the train ride.  These chaperones will be given wristbands or handstamps to identify they are paid with your group.

If your school will not be paying for adult chaperones, any parents who attend with your group will need to enter via the admissions gate and will be subject to normal admission fees.  These parents will be able to walk around the zoo with your students, but since they will not receive wristbands or handstamps they will be unable to gain entry for the classroom presentation component.  They may purchase individual train tickets at the normal rate of $2 per rider at the Zoo gift shop to ride along with your group, if space permits.  Please refer to the capacity limitations provided at the time of reservation and in your confirmation email.

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 rate of $2 per rider. 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 is expected to launch in 2022, but 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

To Register Your Class:

Registration Opens FEBRUARY 1, 2022

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

To reserve your date, contact the Zoo Education Department at on or after the opening of registration and provide ALL of the following information:

  • Your school or facility name
  • Name of coordinating teacher (who serves as contact person on the booking)
  • Grade level
  • Number of classes/sections you are bringing
  • Number of students per class
  • Your preferred field trip dates
  • Time frame you can be on site (earliest arrival and latest departure)
  • Do you wish to include the train ride for all classes?

A field trip coordinator will respond to each inquiry in the order in which they are received...please be patient! Due to the volume of inquiries received, EMAIL INQUIRIES will be given priority. Phone inquiries will be accepted as staff becomes available, and voice messages returned as soon as possible. Please note it is very important to provide all of the information requested above so we can put time slots on hold for you as soon as possible (we will always verify these time slots work for you before making a final reservation!)  Providing only partial information may delay our ability to set a time block aside. Capacity is limited, although we will do our best to accommodate as many groups as possible on their preferred dates.


COVID-19 Information

The Zoo will continue to monitor the ever-changing COVID-19 situation and 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 may be required of all participants 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.  For this reason we will have reduced capacity for appointments in 2022.

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